cover image Tokyo Fiance

Tokyo Fiance

Amelie Nothomb, , trans. from the French by Alison Anderson. . Europa, $15 (152pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-64-8

A darling of the French literary scene, Nothomb delivers a complex story of first love set in late 1980s and early ’90s Tokyo. Amélie is a 21-year-old Belgian student studying Japanese in Tokyo when she begins tutoring Rinri, a sweet, shy and wealthy 20-year-old, in French. The relationship quickly evolves into a friendship and, soon after that, into romance. Rinri is a young soul who is easily swept up in his love for Amélie, and his charm is undeniable as he courts her, but Amélie wrestles with the classic situation: she loves spending time with Rinri, but she doesn’t love him, and she cannot deny her need for independence. Nothomb thankfully forgoes the standard approach to passion and unrequited love, leading the reader to hope the adorable couple don’t get married and instead find their own separate happiness. Nicely told, intimate and honest, the book depicts perfectly a nontraditional romance. (Jan.)