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The End of Eddy
Cover of The End of Eddy
The End of Eddy
A Novel
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An autobiographical novel about growing up gay in a working-class town in Picardy.

"Every morning in the bathroom I would repeat the same phrase to myself over and over again . . . Today I'm really gonna be a tough guy." Growing up in a poor village in northern France, all Eddy Bellegueule wanted was to be a man in the eyes of his family and neighbors. But from childhood, he was different—"girlish," intellectually precocious, and attracted to other men.

Already translated into twenty languages, The End of Eddy captures the violence and desperation of life in a French factory town. It is also a sensitive, universal portrait of boyhood and sexual awakening. Like Karl Ove Knausgaard or Edmund White, Édouard Louis writes from his own undisguised experience, but he writes with an openness and a compassionate intelligence that are all his own. The result—a critical and popular triumph—has made him the most celebrated French writer of his generation.

An autobiographical novel about growing up gay in a working-class town in Picardy.

"Every morning in the bathroom I would repeat the same phrase to myself over and over again . . . Today I'm really gonna be a tough guy." Growing up in a poor village in northern France, all Eddy Bellegueule wanted was to be a man in the eyes of his family and neighbors. But from childhood, he was different—"girlish," intellectually precocious, and attracted to other men.

Already translated into twenty languages, The End of Eddy captures the violence and desperation of life in a French factory town. It is also a sensitive, universal portrait of boyhood and sexual awakening. Like Karl Ove Knausgaard or Edmund White, Édouard Louis writes from his own undisguised experience, but he writes with an openness and a compassionate intelligence that are all his own. The result—a critical and popular triumph—has made him the most celebrated French writer of his generation.

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About the Author-
  • Born Eddy Bellegueule in Hallencourt, France, in 1992, Édouard Louis is a novelist and the editor of a scholarly work on the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu. He is the coauthor, with the philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, of "Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive," published in English by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 6, 2017
    In this excellent autobiographical novel, a middle school boy struggles to forge an identity in a French industrial town hostile in every way to his homosexuality. Beset on all sides by violent bullying, verbal ridicule, and a lack of familial support, Eddy Bellegueule has devoted himself, despite his high voice and effeminate mannerisms, to becoming a “tough guy” like his unemployed father. A series of heartbreaking setbacks occurs, including two failed relationships with women, which culminates with Eddy’s mother discovering him in a compromising sexual situation. The story finally leads to a powerful farewell scene between Eddy and his father, a momentary demonstration of devotion inextricable from the years of pain that the man has caused the boy. Already translated into 20 languages, this concise novel adroitly captures the downstream effects of reactionary rural culture, heightened by the rise of hard-right ideology and the destabilization of the working class in contemporary Europe, granting its reader an extraordinary portrait of trauma and escape. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, the Wylie Agency.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2017
    "We are always playing roles and there is a certain truth to masks": an absorbing but sobering roman a clef by philosopher/novelist Louis and a sharply pointed coming-of-age tale.Kenneth Rexroth, the American poet, published a memoir that bore the title An Autobiographical Novel, he said, at the insistence of the lawyers. No one save for Louis, born Eddy Bellegueule in 1992, can say for sure where novel begins and memoir ends here; the book reads like autobiography unadorned except for occasional dark-lyrical moments, as with the anti-Proustian opening sentence: "From my childhood I have no happy memories." It's abundantly evident, just a few pages in, why Louis should make such a declaration, for though he lives in la belle France, it's in the nearly Appalachian countryside of Picardy, where a gay kid such as himself is a playground victim from the get-go. His father, who--shudder--drinks box wine, box after box, is a raging brute descended from other raging brutes, wants nothing more than to toughen up a boy who won't be toughened. Mom is, like a sans-culotte, "torn between absolute submission to power and an enduring sense of revolt." She smokes like a chimney, aware that it's no good for her but seemingly unconcerned that her asthmatic son might be suffering. Eddy is smart and obliging, even though "being an obedient student at school was considered girlish," and nobody out in the sticks can figure him out except to peg him as "Bellegueule, the homo." Throughout, he grapples with that identity, determined to make himself manly, attempting to convince himself, "Maybe I'm not gay...maybe I've just always had a bourgeois body that was trapped in the world of my childhood." And on the other side of that struggle, self-discovery awaits, patiently.... The best moments of this good though certainly dispiriting book are those in which we sense that better things await the protagonist in a world far beyond his window.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2017

    Louis was born in a factory town in northern France with the name of his narrator, Eddy Bellegueule, a real tough guy's name (bellegueule means, roughly, "beautiful trap," with trap here meaning mouth). But anguished young Eddy is no tough guy, instead suffering constant bullying for his so-called fancy ways; even his parents call him pussy, the worst insult they could deliver. In a place where men are expected to be men and women and children can expect to be belted into submission, Eddy is the relentlessly targeted outsider disproving the adage that names can never hurt you and suffering real beatings besides. Fighting panic attacks, skirting his tormentors, trying to get it on with girls before "losing the battle between my desire to become a tough guy and the desire of my own body," Eddy finally finds a convincing and satisfying way to triumph, if imperfectly. VERDICT An autobiographical first novel that made Louis a star in France and an international sensation, this work is occasionally repetitious but ultimately deeply affecting. [See Prepub Alert, 12/1/16.]

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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