This bracing new nonfiction book by the young superstar Édouard Louis is both a searing j'accuse of the viciously entrenched French class system and a wrenchingly tender love letter to his father.
Who Killed My Father rips into France's long neglect of the working class and its overt contempt for the poor, accusing the complacent French--at the minimum--of negligent homicide.
The author goes to visit the ugly gray town of his childhood to see his dying father, barely fifty years old, who can hardly walk or breathe: "You belong to the category of humans whom politics consigns to an early death." It's as simple as that.
But hand in hand with searing, specific denunciations are tender passages of a love between father and son, once damaged by shame, poverty and homophobia. Yet tenderness reconciles them, even as the state is killing off his father. Louis goes after the French system with bare knuckles but turns to his long-alienated father with open arms: this passionate combination makes Who Killed My Father a heartbreaking book.
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About the Author
Canny, brilliant: a devastating emotional force.--Garth Greenwell
After Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante ... it's difficult to find a literary sensation that has transfixed so many readers.--Financial Times
The head of France's new wave of revolutionary writers.
Louis speaks with an emotional intensity and stylistic confidence that is hard to ignore. A bludgeoning critique of France's treatment of its poor.
A short, wrenching, tender-hearted essay addressed to his dad. Louis frames his (always unnamed) father as emblematic, tracing his perpetual humiliation, under which he suffered in turn, back to the cruelty of the state toward the poor, the way they are scapegoated and then forgotten, struggling under policies that are de facto death sentences.--David O'Neill
A challenge to society's unfettered praise of individual responsibility and its blindness to systemic injustice. Louis' barbed prose delivers a warning to the French elite about the poverty and underlying anger of the working classes.--Todd Gillespie
Whatever one's politics, readers of this impassioned work are likely to be moved by the Louis family's plight and the love, however strained, between the author and his father.
A brief, poetic telling of the myriad ways societal contempt, homophobia, and poverty can kill a man. Louis serves as both raconteur and son, expressing deep and considered empathy for a man whose absence looms large.--Martha Anne Toll
Louis's book raises the phantom of the political spectres currently haunting France and shines a light on its array of inequalities.--Adam Scovell
Louis unpacks the reality of shame, by examining over and again what has gone on between himself and his father. His sentences narrow in, Beckett-like, on the texture of the life he left behind.--Tim Adams
Part lament, part searing polemic...Louis's indictment echoes what has become a battle cry among the French precariat: a crucial text.--Brian Goldstone
Who Killed My Father is a political document that uses the force of memoir -- incisive, confessional personal details -- to bolster its argument that Louis's father's life (and by extension, his family) was ruined by politics. Compelling.-- (04/09/2019)
Who Killed My Father is a book that navigates what can't be said, it addresses liminal spaces; it drifts between present and past tense; it glides between first and second person; it eulogizes a man who is still alive. I can think of few young writers who manage to situate themselves so squarely within their time