‘hygiène De L’assassin’  By amelie Nothomb

‘Hygiène de l’assassin’ is the first and one of the most well-known novels by Belgian author, Amélie Nothomb. Published in 1992, the novel is almost entirely written in dialogue and tells the story of a famous novelist, Prétextat Tach, who is stricken by “Elzenveiverplatz syndrome” (an imaginary illness invented by the author), a cancer of the cartilage, and has only two more months to live.

The story consists of different journalists interviewing the dying Tach, who comes across as an obnoxious and miserly man. Despite this, he is also hugely entertaining and often drives away interviewers who ask about his personal life. It is an interview with an unknown, female journalist that makes the novel as she challenges Tach to confront the demons of his former life.

It is these interactions between Tach and the interviewers that make the book a fast and absorbing read, and the mystery developing around Tach’s past and personality will keep you glued to the page.

In 1999, Hygiène de l’assassin was adapted for film by François Ruggieri which is also an excellent watch. Interestingly, there are some differences between the novel and the film but we will leave you to work them for yourselves!

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