Life Form


By Amélie Nothomb

cover image of Life Form

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A fictional correspondence with a desperate American soldier leads to a strange new reality in this surreal novel of trauma, healing, and war.
One morning, the heroine of this book—a famous Belgian author named Amélie Nothomb—receives an unusual fan letter. Melvin Mapple, an American soldier stationed in Iraq, tells her of the horrors around him. And of his only comfort, eating. He eats and eats until his ever-growing bulk starts to suffocate him. Disgusted with himself, but unable to stop, he labels his excess self Scheherazade as a way to cope.
Repulsed yet fascinated by Mapple's story, Nothomb begins exchanging letters with him. She opens up about her artistic process and the challenges of being in the spotlight. Their far-reaching conversation delves into universal questions about humanity and relationships. But their epistolary friendship takes a surprising turn when the novelist discovers bizarre facts lurking behind Mapple's complex personal story.
Life Form