Review published on November 12, 2017.
French author Edouard Louis may have not yet reached his mid-twenties, but he has packed a significant punch with this debut, which caused a sensation when published in France. This translation, a winner of an English PEN Award, is an autobiographical novel of a difficult and intense childhood. It is set in a village in Picardy where a tough working-class culture dominates and to be different is an incredibly difficult option. Eddy does not fit in, questions his sexuality from an early age and has this defined for him by homophobic family members, fellow pupils and other villagers. This leads to lack of self-esteem and a victim mentality that causes him to seek out on a daily basis a couple of youths who will beat him up in a lonely school corridor away from the eyes of others who would want to follow suit. This is a heart-breaking and harrowing account of a childhood. It is, however, a novel, although one largely based on fact. That may make things slightly easier for the reader, but then again there isn’t the same sense of completion that we would get from reading a memoir. Louis is quite prepared as a novelist to leave us hanging and it is only through reading between the lines that we deduce that things must have got better. It’s written very much as a memoir, it flows well and although I read it quickly the appalling treatment meted out to Eddy will certainly not quickly leave my mind. I think it would provide valuable reading group discussion, although those conversations will not be easy ones.
Phil Ramage 4/4
The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis
Harvill Secker 9781846559006 hbk Feb 2017