Updated: Oct 17
"To experience thirst one has to be alive"
Review of Amélie Nothomb's 2019 novel.
In Amélie Nothomb’s book, Soif (2019), she asks us to follow Jesus Christ to Golgotha, and from a first person point of view. We witness the full gamut of His human emotions and suffering, but stamped with the writer's style, which renders the novel a bit blasphemous, iconoclastic and profound all at the same time. There is great wisdom and humour in this book. It wrestles with questions of belief, religion, love, time, forgiveness and death.
The author eloquently articulates her intention of portraying the Christ of the Bible as carnal as any of us. The organization of the book follows the Stations of the Cross, while Jesus explores the nature of that corporeality, compares it to the immateriality of God, the father, describes the apostles with all their foibles, and explains the trinity of Love, Thirst, and Death, thirst being the most symbolic of humanity, the most poignant, because quenching a thirst, any thirst, is a sensation we never get enough of.
Page 53, in the French edition – "…the ineffable instant when the parched man raises a glass of water to his lips: that dazzling moment is God."
There are many beautiful passages to be enjoyed, but I find it surprising is that the book meditates on such profound questions of human nature and experience, putting all this convincingly into the character of Christ, while maintaining the same voice that all her books have. One would think that her typical snark would be out of plaace with these subjects, but somehow, she pulls it off. The book is Nothomb cracking wise as usual, but underneath that, there is so much more. A great read.