Farrar. Mar. 2024. 256p. tr. from French by John Lambert. ISBN 9780374606800. $27. F
Born into a very poor family in rural northern France, Eddy Bellegueule knows he is different from those around him, and not only because he is gay. On Saturday evenings, Eddy and a friend go to the “big” supermarket and just wander around, thinking of how grand it would be to actually shop there. Ignorance, poverty, and small doses of violence are common in Eddy’s limited world, and he wants to change his life. Impressed by educated, wealthy, stylish men, he transforms himself—changes his name, straightens his teeth, and improves his hairline. But the changes go beyond the superficial; Eddy also adheres to a strict, rigorous course of philosophical and historical studies that eventually lands him a place at a prestigious university in Paris. With the necessary help of friends Elena, Didier, and Ludovic along the way, Eddy successfully transforms himself into Édouard Louis and becomes a published author, leaving behind his small village and its inhabitants.
VERDICT Louis’s (History of Violence) brilliant autobiographical novel set off fireworks when it was published in France. This fast page-turner will stir emotions and quicken heartbeats as Eddy creates his ideal self-image.
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