Archive for the ‘LGBT Literature’ Category

I discovered Édouard Louis‘ books recently by accident. I’ve never heard of Édouard Louis before and so went and read about him. Then I went and got four books by him – all of his books which are available in English translation 😊

The End of Eddy‘ is a novel which is inspired by Édouard Louis’ own life. Our narrator Eddy lives in a small village. He is from a poor working class family. His dad is a factory worker and his mom is a homemaker. On most days, they are trying to make ends meet. Eddy has two elder siblings and two younger siblings. Eddy describes life in his village, how it is hard for him from the beginning because he is an outsider (he likes feminine things and then discovers that he is gay), how he is bullied and beaten up at school, how his own brother tries to kill him because he is odd, how his parents are poor but also racist and homophobic, how life is hard for people in the village and how they are stuck in a vicious cycle, how Eddy manages to escape.

The book starts with these lines –

“From my childhood I have no happy memories. I don’t mean to say that I never, in all of those years, felt any happiness or joy. But suffering is all-consuming: it somehow gets rid of anything that doesn’t fit into its system.”

And before we realize it, Eddy is smashed by two bullies and we are reeling in shock. We then realize what to expect. The book is dark and bleak. It is powerful, heartbreaking and makes us angry. Though occasionally, it has its sunny moments too. For readers who have been bullied or have faced assault, it can be triggering.

The amazing thing, of course, is that this book is inspired by Édouard Louis’ own life. Édouard Louis is just 30 years old. So he is very young. The events described in the book happened between 1992 and 2010. So, it is just now. They didn’t happen a hundred years back. The book shows a face of contemporary France which many of us wouldn’t be aware of – where people are struggling to make ends meet, where the best a person can aspire for is to become a worker in a factory or a salesgirl, where children get kicked and smashed at school for being different, where husbands get drunk and beat up their wives and kids, where people though they are poor and are oppressed by the society and the system, they in turn oppress others and are racist and homophobic, thus propogating the endless cycle of oppression. It is unbelievable, eye-opening and very hard to read. The France depicted in the book is not at all the sophisticated, elegant France that we imagine, not the France of ‘Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité’ that gives us goosebumps. This is some dark land which is far removed from all these, from where it is hard to escape.

I want to say that I enjoyed reading ‘The End of Eddy’, but I can’t. But it is a powerful, important book, and I’m glad that I read it. Édouard Louis has written three other books based on his own life. I can’t wait to read them.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite passages from the book.

“At first, he sat down and acted like there was nothing going on. He asked me, and he never did this, he never did this in nearly thirty years, so that was just one more clue, he asked me what I’d been up to that day. What a stupid question. It was dumb because he already knew. But I played along. I told him: I went to get some bread at the bakery, I fed the chickens, and then I just watched TV on the sofa. Just like usual. There he sat, like a piece of furniture. Then there was this long silence. You know those kinds of moments, when the silence seems to last for ever. It’s almost like you start counting the seconds and each one lasts an hour. It makes you nervous. I mean, usually, around Sylvain, I’m not nervous. Ever. I’m the one who raised him, so when there’s a silence, a minute later you forget about it. It doesn’t mean anything, that’s how life is. It’s not even that you don’t care, you don’t even notice. But that day, that day was different.”

Have you read ‘The End of Eddy’ or other books by Édouard Louis?


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