A Woman’s Battles and Transformations

Farrar. Aug. 2022. 112p. tr. from French by Tash Aw. ISBN 9780374606749. $20. LIT
Like Louis’s two novels, The End of Eddy and History of Violence, this short text is autobiographical, and like his previous work, sociological. The writing is intensely lyrical but the subject rubs up against the political. At 21, Louis edited a collection of studies on the controversial French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002). Bourdieu’s themes—exclusion, domination, the cyclical, self-perpetuating nature of violence among the poor—play out in Louis’s own narratives. Louis is trying to convey what it feels like to live life excluded, rejected by our classist consumerist society, but he argues his case in nonstandard form, as fiction (his novels) or memoir (this book). Sad but ultimately loving, this book is an apology directed to the mother he neither understood nor supported when he was young. She’s in her 40s now. She left her abusive husband and though her new life isn’t perfect, she’s living like she never had a chance to before. In The End of Eddy, Louis wrote: “I have no happy memories from childhood.” But maybe changes in circumstances can create those happinesses.
VERDICT Moving and beautiful. The book falls between genres, so it may be slow to be picked up but is worth highlighting.
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