#INTLYALITMONTH: The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis

Review by Jack Gantos

The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis

The End of Eddy is the semi-autobiographical story of a young gay man’s life in an impoverished and dysfunctional rural French family.  Both the family and his social environment – in school and in the town – do not attempt to understand him, and as a result they do not accept him which leads to frequent hostile emotional and physical abuse. It is also a story that rises up beyond Eddy’s personal tormented life and reaches out to investigate cultural and willful ignorance–and how prejudices against same-sex interests and desires can become unbearably hostile. In short, it is a book about a young man’s personal journey into understanding himself and finding the strength to be himself, and a book about systemic cultural prejudices in rural France.

That said, it is Edouard’s ‘voice’ that narrates the full range of this book so that it never falls into a sociological rant or posture, but always remains fully his own personal story.  His ‘voice’ has great range. On one hand he can take a step back and clearly see the big picture of his life at home, the failures of his family, the anger and alcoholism in his father, the inability of his mother to protect him from the father’s abuse, and the abuse he receives from his community. On the other hand, the voice can be entirely self-searching and confessional, full of pain and anger and humor, and most importantly, the voice is convincingly honest. It is Eddy trying his best to put into words the many dimensions of himself while being pushed around with the words (and fists) of others that attempt to beat him into something he is not.

Edouard’s effort to see how the harsh family values have been shaped by the larger pressure of community values, is what gives this book the dimension it needs to be heartbreaking, insightful and triumphant. This is an inviting story that will give voice to those who see themselves as Eddy and to those who are empathetic to Eddy. And because the book is generous in its scope, the reader is invited to understand even those who antagonize Eddy. 

Awards

  • 30th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist—Gay Fiction
  • Pierre Buenin Prize against homophobia and for Equal Rights
  • Nominated for the Dublin Literary Award by London Redbridge Libraries, UK, 2019

English-language Translation:

ISBN: 978-0-374-26665-3

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York

Language: Translated from the French into English by Michael Lucey

Original Text:

Title: En Finir Avec Eddy Bellegueule

Author: Edouard Louis

Publisher: Seuil

You can purchase this book here*.

*Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.

Read more:

Édouard Louis: ‘Truth is a revenge because we live in a world of lies’

‘I Always Write With a Sense of Shame’

Growing Up Poor and Queer in a French Village

About the Author :

Edouard Louis

Edouard Louis is a French writer born in 1992. He grew up in Hallencourt before entering theater at the Lycee Madeleine Michelis in Amiens. From 2008 to 2010 he was a delegate of the Amiens Academy to the National Council for High School Life, then later studied history at the University of Picardy. He published The End of Eddy at the age of 21.

About the Translator:

Michael Lucey

Michael Lucey is a professor of French literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Never Say I: Sexuality and the First Person in Colette, Gide, and Proust and The Misfit of the Family: Balzac and the Social Forms of Sexuality and translator of Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon. He is currently working on two new projects: “Thinking About Sexuality with Novels” and “Novels and/as Language-in-Use.”

Reviewer:

Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos is a writer who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He writes books for readers of all ages, from picture books, to middle grade books of stories and novels to Young Adult and Adult novels. His books have received the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, Scott O’Dell Award, Printz Honor and Seibert Honor among others.

Reviewer titles:

Curator of the second #IntlYALitMonth at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative:

Linda Hoiseth

Linda Hoiseth is the high school librarian at the American School of Dubai and has previously worked at schools in the US, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Peru, Qatar, and India. She was lucky enough to meet Jack Gantos in Poland and work with him in Peru, Qatar, and India. She has a B.S. in English and Secondary Education, an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a graduate certificate in School Library Media. Linda is an IB workshop leader and a member of the ECIS Libraries Special Interest Group. Her husband Robb is her travel partner, and they’re proud of their two adult children who live in Minnesota. She’s a fierce advocate for all students to have access to all the books. Follow her on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s