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Loving Sabotage (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing (November 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811217825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811217828
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who have yet to discover the feather-ruffling pleasures of reading popular Belgian author Nothomb (The Stranger Next Door), winner of the Prix du Roman de L'Academie Francaise and other prizes, should jump at the chance with this utterly disarming send-up of a precocious seven-year-old girl's collision with Communist China. Based on the author's experiences as the daughter of diplomats stationed in Peking (Beijing) from 1972 to 1975, the work is a frequently hilarious first-person account of an intrepid heroine who discovers life's ironies through the warped prism 0f CommunismDthat freedom springs from oppression and beauty blossoms where ugliness prevails. The narrator's family is warehoused in the foreigners' ghetto, San Li Tun, where the numerous unsupervised children of various nationalities spend their time fashioning an elaborate and ruthless game of war, designating the East German contingent as the enemy. When exquisite Elena, an unfeeling Italian six-year-old, arrives in the ghetto, the narrator's cheerful savagery is sabotaged by her obsessive love for the imperious beauty. While the narrator goes to ridiculous and heartrending lengths to make her adoration known to Elena, Nothomb interjects her brilliantly simple observations regarding the Communist regime: the running of a school art contest was like a "Rumanian electoral campaign"; the family's Chinese interpreter , Mr. Chang, disappears, only to be replaced by a woman who insists on being called Comrade Chang. With deadpan, ironical bite, Nothomb re-creates a child's insular, supremely egocentric world. While the Chinese setting is evocative, this short novel will benefit from targeting to any reader who is sympathetic to a child's view of the world. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A charming, devious little book. -- Trenton Times, David Finkle, 3 December 2000

Hilarious and fierce, Nothomb captures the essence of childhood—its self-centered preoccupation, seriousness and joy. -- Lynn Harnett, Portsmouth, NH Herald Sunday, 6 May 2001

Nothomb is certainly victorious. Not only is the story compelling, the prose is exceptional. -- Review of Contemporary Fiction, Alan Tinkler, Summer 2001

[A] delight to read. -- Washington Times, Corinna Lothar, 31 December 2000

[A]ble to convey the world of the young in spry and delightful ways. -- The Review of Arts, Lit, Philosophy, and the Humanities, Sandra MacPhearson, October/November 2000

[Nothomb's] acidic yet passionately romantic view of human nature is on full display... -- Elle, Ben Dickinson, February 2001

[O]ne marvelous little book....one of the best books about childhood we can recall, and we recommend it very, very highly. -- The Complete Review, Winter 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on April 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The narrator of Amelie Northomb's short novel is a young girl who has evidently been grossly ignored by her parents. She is the daughter of a diplomat stationed in China during the turbulent early 1970s -- her family, as well as the families of other foreign government workers, is isolated in what she calls a 'ghetto', cut off from the Chinese people. Her father's job is frustrating -- he is there to be the Belgian contact with the Chinese government, and to keep his country informed of what is going on in China, but the Chinese are not keen to let out much in the way of general information. Even the identities of Chinese cabinet ministers is treated as a secret.
In the midst of this atmosphere, young Amelie (and the author, in an afterword, maintains that the story is a true one, that even the names have not been changed) is pretty much left to fend for herself during the days. She rides her bicycle (she refers to it as her horse) through the Peking streets, offended that the Chinese guards at the compound gate do not see her as a threat to them. She has an active imagination -- one of the blessings of being seven years old -- and sees herself in vivid roles as a hero. The other children in the compound seem to be growing up the same way, and to amuse themselves, they engage in what they call a 'war' with the children of the East German diplomats.
With the arrival of a beautiful little girl named Elena, the child of an Italian diplomat and his South American wife, Amelie feels for the first time in her young life the magnetic pull of love for another person. She is entranced and obsessively infatuated with the little girl, who is cold and distant -- which only serves to make her more of an attraction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JET VINE VOICE on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This amazing book is the self-told story of a seven-year-old girl's three years in China. Amelie (the narrator never says her name, but the author's note says that the story is all true and autobiographical, and none of the names have changed) is the child of Belgian diplomats. Born in Japan, she is convinced she is Japanese until her father is posted to China, where they live for three years in the 1970s. Diplomats' families in China are mainly housed in one ghetto, and the children are almost entirely left to their own devices, outside of going to school, eating meals, and sleeping. The story describes how these children play, creating their own "war," which mirrors adult life almost exactly, but with some slight substitutions. Amelie is consumed with the war and pictures herself as a self-sacrificing, brilliant hero, until the day Elena arrives. Elena is a beautiful, indifferent Italian girl with whom Amelie is immediately transfixed. Amelie makes it her life's work to break Elena's indifference and, therefore, earn her love.

This is a brilliant, engrossing little book that portrays the self-centered, omniscient bliss of childhood in the setting of Communist China. China is not so much a driving force or a character in itself as a spectre in the background, tainting all of the narrator's experiences ever so slightly. Descriptions are passionate and vibrant, and the narrator embodies childhood perfectly: idealistic but without pretense or illusion, and comfortable in the belief that their little world is all that matters.

I was fascinated by this book, and loved everything from the narrator's humorous descriptions of her exploits to the unrestrained emotion and nostalgia the author so deftly maintains throughout.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patience Blythe on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Do you remember what it was like to be a child in a land of childish grown ups? When all concerns were life or death, and love was, literally, hearbreaking? Nothbomb's "Loving Sabotage" goes into the world of a seven year old girl living in Peking with her diplomat parents. Her experiences of world war with the germans, secret weapons, and her love affair with the six year old femme fatale Elena will make you laugh and remember the serious side of childhood. (wink!) This book is a quick read and Nothbomb's style is witty and delicious. Anyone who felt their childhood was a series of horrors, disappointments, battles, with the occasional upper hand will adore this book and the author herself.
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Format: Paperback
A very sweet and funny way to approach China from the perspective of a very smart girl.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading Tokyo Fiance by the same author I was disappointed in this book. Not only the writing is choppy but the story does not really interest me, nor do the characters leave a lasting impression. There's nothing there to move you and although the children in this book are just as monstrous as the ones in Lord of the Flies the writing falls much shorter in comparison.
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