Amélie Nothomb: Psychopompe [Psychopomp]

The latest addition to my website is Amélie Nothomb‘s Psychopompe [ Psychopomp]. Yes, psychopomp is a word ( literally the guide of souls. They are creatures, spirits, angels, demons or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. This is a (semi-)autobiographical novel and tells of Nothomb’s obsession with birds when younger and later with death (which is where the psychopomp comes in). Finally we move on to how she became a writer and the birds and the death issue play a role. For her becoming a writer is equivalent to a bird learning to fly while, she tells us, death is playing more and more of a role in her novels. We learn of the role of her father in her writing and how, in her view, most writers do not go through a long enough apprenticeship before becoming fully fledged (bird reference deliberate!) writers. You will learn about exotic birds as she lived a long time abroad as a child as her father was a diplomat and bit about psychopomps but, in particular, the difficulties of becoming an accomplished writer.

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