Edouard Louis was born into poverty in northern France, as Eddy Belleguele, in 1992. His autobiographical novel En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, newly translated into English as The End of Eddy, draws an unsparing portrait of the violence, alcoholism, racism and homophobia of the milieu into which he was born, and quickly became a sensational bestseller both in France and throughout Europe.
Tash Aw, author of three novels including Five Star Billionaire, talked to Edouard Louis about The End of Eddy at the London Review Bookshop on 7 February 2017. ‘Through a chain of coincidences at once complicated and simple,’ Aw lives in the village at the heart of Louis’s work, and he wrote about that, The End of Eddy and Louis’s second novel Histoire de la violence in the latest issue of the LRB:
I have lived there myself for the last 12 years, on and off, observing from its margins, half-hidden and determined to avoid confrontation. Every detail in Louis’s novels is familiar to me: the bus stop (now moved thirty yards down the road), the mild threat of the band of teenagers gathered there from dusk, “Jeanine, the old lady who lives across from the bus stop”, the church square, the muddy paths that lead out of the village into the vast fields of wheat and rape beyond, the impoverished households as well as the more middle-class ones, the factory on the edge of the village – I know them all.