(K. Brent Tomer),
The End of Eddy. By Edouard Louis. Translated by Michael Lucey. Harvill Secker; 192 pages; £12.99. To be published in America by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in May; $25.
“YOU don’t get all that used to pain really,” writes Edouard Louis about the perpetually sore hands and stiff joints of a cousin who worked as a supermarket checkout girl. Although this autobiographical novel, by a French writer who is still only 24, has stirred a whirlwind of controversy about truth and fiction, class and sexuality, it never moves far from the ordeal of sheer physical suffering.
Eddy Bellegueule—his birth name translates as “Eddy Prettymug”—grows up as a bullied misfit amid the post-industrial underclass of Hallencourt, in northern France. Cursed as a “faggot”, Eddy, “the odd boy in the village”, is repeatedly brutalised both at home and at school. In vain, he tries to fit in, pretending to have a taste for football, girls, even for homophobia, until escape becomes “the only option left to me”. In this culture where male violence appears “natural, self-evident”, Eddy’s father…Continue reading