Cosmétique de l’ennemi – Amélie Nothomb, 1 Excellent Character

Cosmétique de l’ennemi is one of those books that had been waiting in my bookshelves for so long that I could not remember when or why I bought it. When I couldn’t decide what to read recently, I asked my husband to choose a book. After spending minutes in front of my books, he chose this book with great care. I guess if he knew what to expect, he would not pick up this book. Cosmétique de l’ennemi is a book that both surprised and frightened me.


Cosmétique de l’ennemi begins with a man approaching Jerome August, who is waiting at the airport because his plane is delayed. Jerome doesn’t want to talk to anyone, and he has a book. His nerves were turned upside down because his plane was experiencing a delay.

But, this annoying man, who says that his name is Textor Texel, is trying to force a conversation with him. Despite telling Textor Texel to f*ck off and even insulting him, this annoying man still keeps talking. And as the reader, you are annoyed as much as Jerome.

Cosmétique de l'ennemi - Amélie Nothomb

After a while, Jerome starts to listen to what this strange man is telling, albeit hard at first. The more he listens, the more things will emerge, surprising the reader even more than Jerome. So at least, that’s what happened to me. I can say that Cosmétique de l’ennemi managed to get on my nerves within minutes. If you’re looking for a short book that will surprise you a lot and maybe even a little unsettle you, you’ve found it. Enjoy!

And here is the blurb for Cosmétique de l’ennemi in English if you’re interested (and you should be interested!):

When Jerome August finds out that his plane will be delayed at the airport, he is unaware of what this will cause him. While waiting for the flight, he opens the book in his bag and starts reading. At first, he doesn’t care much about the reckless man who approaches him and tries to chat hard with him. However, things change in a short time.

The bizarre stranger who says his name is Textor Texel is annoying, jaw-dropping enough to haunt Jerome August. He makes him listen to himself, although he never wanted it; Textor Texel begins to tell his own life story—the days when he ate cat food, rapes, murders, a lot of obsession. Jerome August gradually realises that this sick person has an important place in his life. Moreover, it is not a coincidence that Textor Texel is present at the airport. Step by step, this conversation turns into torture that infuriates Jerome August.

Amelie Nothomb is a writer who draws attention with her funny and clever fiction. As in all of her books, Cosmétique de l’ennemi gradually increases the tension; its events are mischievously narrated and reaches an unexpected end. Cosmétique de l’ennemi is an excellent black humour dialogue.

Cosmétique de l'ennemi - Amélie Nothomb

Cosmétique de l’ennemi

Cosmétique de l’ennemi: « Sans le vouloir, j’avais commis le crime parfait : personne ne m’avait vu venir, à part la victime. La preuve, c’est que je suis toujours en liberté. »
C’est dans le hall d’un aéroport que tout a commencé. Il savait que ce serait lui. La victime parfaite.
Le coupable désigné d’avance.
Il lui a suffi de parler. Et d’attendre que le piège se referme. C’est dans le hall d’un aéroport que tout s’est terminé.
De toute façon, le hasard n’existe pas. Cosmétique de l’ennemi.

Amélie Nothomb

Baroness Fabienne Claire Nothomb, better known by her pen name Amélie Nothomb is a Belgian Francophone novelist. Part of her childhood was spent in Asia. A prolific author, since the publication of her first novel Hygiene and the Assassin in 1992, at the age of twenty-six, she has published a book a year. Her novels are among the top literary sales and have been translated into several languages.

She is a Commander of the Order of the Crown and has had the title of Baroness bestowed upon her by King Philippe of Belgium. Her novel Fear and Trembling won the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française in 1999, and in 2015 she was elected to the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature in Belgium.

Research shows Amélie Nothomb was born in Etterbeek, Brussels-Capital Region on 9 July 1966. She has consistently claimed to have been born in Kobe, Japan in 1967 but records show her living there only from ages two to five. Subsequently, she lived in China, New York, Bangladesh, Burma, the United Kingdom (Coventry) and Laos.

She stems from a Belgian noble family. Her father was the Belgian diplomat Patrick Nothomb, and she is the grandniece of Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, a Belgian foreign minister (1980–1981), and great granddaughter of writer and politician Pierre Nothomb. She has one brother and one sister.

While in Japan, Nothomb attended a local school and learned Japanese. When she was five, the family moved to China. She remarked in Fear and Trembling that leaving Japan was “a wrenching separation for me”. She studied philology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Having finished her studies, Nothomb returned to Japan to work in a Japanese company in Tokyo. Her experience of this time, is expressed in Fear and Trembling.

She wrote a romanticized biography (The Book of Proper Names) of French female singer Robert in 2002 and during the period 2000–2002 wrote the lyrics for nine tracks by the same artist.

A documentary — Amélie Nothomb: une vie entre deux eaux (a life between two waters) — co-written and directed by Laurelinne Amanieux and Luca Chiari, about Amélie’s return to Japan and rediscovery of the beauty of the landscapes, the peaceful rites, the sadness of Fukushima, but especially, the meeting with her Japanese nursemaid, Nishio San was made in 2012. By a Royal Decree of 8 July 2015, Nothomb was ennobled as a non-hereditary baroness.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Read Around the World, A Great Journey

Read Around the World

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