“Honor sometimes means doing something very unwise. Behaving like an idiot is better than dishonor. To this day I blush for having chosen sensible restraint over common decency.”
This is the story of a Belgian interpreter who works in a big Japanese company in Japan. Extremely autobiographic, funny and surprising at the same time; a young Nothomb lost in the corporatist Japanese life at the beginning of the 90's. This novel is about the horrible abuse Amélie suffers at a Japanese company where she’s originally hired as a translator and eventually demoted to bathroom attendant.
With plenty of humor and irony, the author describes how the hierarchy scheme is able to destroy the character of an occidental foreign young woman who struggles to be accepted and recognize by her work. While I at times found Nothomb’s prose witty and the story in general to be consistently fast-paced and breezily written, the events it depicts frustrated me beyond belief.
The book is supposed to be based on the author's experiences when working in Japan. Recommended if you're interested in Japan and the Japanese.