Planning Your Weekend

The latest issue of PEN America includes an excerpt from an English translation of Belgian writer Amélie Nothomb's Hygiène de l'Assassin, released in English as Hygiene and the Assassin.  I discovered a while back that Nothomb's books in the original are great if your tastes run a bit weird and if you're trying to improve on an intermediate to advanced knowledge of French.  I finished Hygiène de l'Assassin in one day (not impressive considering it's pretty short, impressive considering my limitations in reading the French language) almost against my will.  The best way I can think of to describe this book is to say it's a chemically reactive cross between a fairy tale and a murder mystery, meaning that it is neither one but some completely different animal constructed almost entirely of dialogue.  Plot summary:  An incredibly unpleasant and hugely obese writer who is dying of an incurable disease screws with journalists trying to pull off a much-desired interview.  Suspense, humor and personal revelations ensue.  Prerequisite for reading:  Being not-quite-right in the head.

Sample chapter from Europa Editions

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