History of Violence by Édouard Louis
A Novel

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Most people mythologise the past and turn traumas into fables. Only rarely does someone remember all the horrid little facts of a past aggression or indignity; Louis has just that sort of painful but necessary recall. He doesn’t correct his past thoughts to agree with the present ones.
-Guardian

Synopsis

History of Violence is international bestselling French author Edouard Louis’s autobiographical novel about surviving a shocking sexual assault and coping with the post-traumatic stress disorder of its aftermath.

On Christmas Eve 2012, in Paris, the novelist Édouard Louis was raped and almost murdered by a man he had just met. This act of violence left Louis shattered; its aftermath made him a stranger to himself and sent him back to the village, the family, and the past he had sworn to leave behind.

A bestseller in France, History of Violence is a short nonfiction novel in the tradition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but with the victim as its subject. Moving seamlessly and hypnotically between past and present, between Louis’s voice and the voice of an imagined narrator, History of Violence has the exactness of a police report and the searching, unflinching curiosity of memoir at its best. It records not only the casual racism and homophobia of French society but also their subtle effects on lovers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. It represents a great step forward for a young writer whose acuity, skill, and depth are unmatched by any novelist of his generation, in French or English.

 

About Édouard Louis

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Born Eddy Bellegueule in Hallencourt, France, in 1992, Édouard Louis is the author of two novels and the editor of a scholarly work on the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu. He is the coauthor, with the philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, of “Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive,” published in English by the Los Angeles Review of Books.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 has translated Returning to Reims by Didier Eribon.
 
Published June 19, 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 224 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for History of Violence
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 03 2018

A sobering tale of crime and the exhausting search for justice in its aftermath...An intensely suspenseful psychological portrait—and with many more questions than answers.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Edmund White on Jun 20 2018

Most people mythologise the past and turn traumas into fables. Only rarely does someone remember all the horrid little facts of a past aggression or indignity; Louis has just that sort of painful but necessary recall. He doesn’t correct his past thoughts to agree with the present ones.

Read Full Review of History of Violence: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Jun 11 2018

The self-consciousness can occasionally feel contrived, or at least French, but the book at heart is both brave and ambitious in its determination never to let its reader, or its author, escape lightly the damaging realities it describes.

Read Full Review of History of Violence: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

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