'Fear and Trembling' - the directly translated English title - defines the state a mere mortal should find him/herself in when addressing a superior, according to Japanese beliefs.
Nothomb's problem, during her internship at a Japanese firm, is precisely her lack of fear and trembling. A fault no doubt inherent to her inferior, Western nature, according to her closest supervisor, with whom she develops a tempestuous and ambiguous relationship.
This short novel is autobiographical; it depicts Japanese professional life from an outside yet very benevolent point of view and it is particularly well penned.
Nothomb's style is incisive and poetic at the same time, and this was a pleasure to read.
(Any reference to Kierkegaard's opus of the same name was perfectly lost on me, as I am not at all familiar with his work. A lack in my education, no doubt.)