Discussion at the American University of Paris


Tuesday, 27th of September, at 18h30 I will talk about literature and narratives – traditional and newer – at the American University of Paris.

The event is open to all.

More informations here :

From tweets and Facebook updates to Snapchats and Instagram selfies, our generation is preoccupied with sharing, speaking out and showing off. When we update our social media timelines, or like and share updates of our friends and peers, we are creating narratives, telling stories or contributing to the storytelling efforts of others.

What are the implications of these acutely contemporary forms of narrative and the ways we use them? What are the relationships of these forms to more traditional storytelling forms such as the novel and the memoir? What are the literary, social and ethical ramifications of telling stories in the twenty-first century?

To discuss these questions, and others, AUP is delighted to be welcoming the critically acclaimed writer Édouard Louis to join a panel discussion. At the age of 23, Louis is fast becoming a respected member of the French intellectual community. His first novel, The End of Eddy (published in French in 2014 and to appear in English early in 2017) relates his experiences growing up in the north of France and explores gender, identity and class. His second novel, Histoire de la violence (2016), is equally inspired by personal experience and explores rape, violence and the latter’s role in society.

Louis will be joined by AUP professor Hannah Westley (Global Communications). Her current research considers the consequences of new media for the genre of autobiography and self-writing, with a particular interest in how online identities interact with traditional means of self-representation and how this affects the ways in which narrative and subjectivity are understood. Most recently, Professor Westley has been researching how the ‘selfie’ helps us think about narrative.

The event (which takes place in English) will be chaired by Russell Williams (Comparative Literature and English, AUP). His research focuses primarily on the contemporary French novel. He is also particularly interested in how we use social media and its relationship to more traditional literary forms.

This panel discussion is organised by the AUP department of Comparative Literature and English with the support of the Centre for Writers and Translators and the Global Communications department.

The event is open to all. Those looking to attend from outside the AUP community must register in advance by contacting rwilliams@aup.edu. Room C-104 is located in the AUP Combes building at 6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris.

For further information, or to register, please contact Russell Williams at rwilliams@aup.edu.

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Classé dans English, Littérature, Rencontres, Roman

« Face à la violence, se réinventer »



Dans le cadre du festival du journal Le Monde, je dialoguerai avec Jean Birnbaum sur le thème « Face à la violence, se réinventer ». Il y sera question d’Histoire de la violence et d’En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule mais aussi, plus généralement, de violence sociale, de littérature et d’émancipation.

La rencontre se tiendra dans le Grand Foyer du Palais Garnier le samedi 17 septembre à 16h.

Il est possible de réserver des places et d’obtenir plus d’informations ici.


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Classé dans Emancipation, Littérature, Rencontres

Lectures in Norway

Bergen : 

14th of September 

16h00 : Dialogue with the « Bergen student society », at Kvarteret, about Voldens Historie and Eddy Bellegueule.

19h00: Dialogue at the Literature house of Bergen, with Bjørn Ivar Fyksen, about Voldens Historie.


Stavanger :

15th of September 

16h:30 : Lecture about Pierre Bourdieu ( Culture house of Stavanger )

16th of September 

13h00 : Dialogue about Voldens Historie ( Culture house of Stavanger )



Oslo :

21st of September

19h00 :Conversation with Kjersti Skomsvold at the Literature house of Oslo. We will talk about her work and « Voldens Historie ».

23rd of September

18h00 : Lecture about Toni Morisson : « Its not my fault », at the Literature House of Oslo

After the lecture, there will be a film screening of the movie adaptation of Beloved from 1998.






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Classé dans English, Lectures, Littérature, Parutions, Rencontres

« Une malédiction » dans la revue Freeman’s

Je publie cet été, dans le second numéro de la revue américaine Freeman’s, un texte intitulé « A curse » ( « Une malédiction », traduit du français vers l’anglais par Linda Coverdale).


Ce numéro porte sur le thème de la famille et compte des contributions de Claire Messud, Patrick Modiano, Aminatta Forna, Mo Yan, etc.

Dans mon texte, je réfléchis à la place centrale de la vengeance dans le fonctionnement de la famille.

Une soirée de lancement du numéro de la revue est organisée le 12 juillet, à 19h à la librairie Shakespeare and Company, en partenariat avec New York University. Y participeront également John Freeman, le directeur de la revue ainsi que les deux écrivains Valeria Luiselli et Aleksander Hemon. L’entrée est libre.



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Classé dans Littérature, Parutions, Rencontres

A paraître : « Storia della violenza » et « Voldens Historie »

A la rentrée littéraire d’automne paraitront :

-« Storia della violenzia » ( Italie, Bompiani, traduction : Fabrizio Ascari )

et – « Voldens Historie » ( Norvège, Aschehoug, traduction : Egil Halmøy )

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Classé dans Littérature, Parutions, Roman

« Fondation Eddy » à Madrid


Suite à la publication de Para acabar con eddy Bellegueule en espagnol, une fondation a été crée à Madrid, qui porte le nom « Fondation Eddy« , et qui offre des appartements dans le centre de Madrid à des jeunes victimes de discriminations sexuelles. J’ai été bouleversé par l’annonce de la création de cette association, qui se veut l’équivalent de l’association Le Refuge en France.

Sur le site de la fondation, on peut lire qu’elle met à disposition des appartements pour les jeunes victimes de LGBTphobie, sérophobie, que ce soit dans le milieu social, familial, scolaire, professionnel ou conjugal. Elle accueille les réfugiés gays, lesbiennes et trans sans papiers ayant dû fuir leur pays à cause de leur orientation sexuelle.





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Classé dans Emancipation, Littérature, Politique

The State of the Political Novel

An interview with  for The Paris Review


Who is Eddy Bellegueule, and why do you want to finish him off?

Eddy Bellegueule is the name my parents gave me when I was born. It sounds dramatic, but yes, I wanted to kill him—he wasn’t me, he was the name of a childhood I hated. The book shows how—before I revolted against my childhood, my social class, my family, and, finally, my name—it was my milieu that revolted against me. My father and my brothers wanted to finish off Eddy Bellegueule long before, at a time when I was still trying to save him.

Eddy grows up gay in a world where narrow norms of masculinity are strictly enforced.

The real subject of the book is how people like the ones in my village suffer from exclusion, domination, poverty. In the novel, a series of vignettes—scenes taken from real life—expose this, the constant lack of money for food, how my mother would steal wood from the neighbors in order to heat the house, and so on. And it’s clear these circumstances produce brutality through what Pierre Bourdieu called the principle of the conservation of violence. When you’re subjected to endless violence, in every situation, every moment of your life, you end up reproducing it against others, in other situations, by other means. One of the instruments of this daily violence is the cult of masculinity. I always hated typical masculine activities. I was incapable of them—the sight of me playing football was hilarious—and so from the beginning I was excluded. But the book describes how the boy doesn’t want to be different, how he struggles to be like everyone else.

You were ashamed?

My father used to say, You are the shame of the family. He would tell me the community mocked our family because I acted like a girl, that I was too flamboyant. So I did all I could to change. Wanting so desperately to fit in made me look at class from a different angle than I’d previously encountered in literature. Even from the greatest writers, I always had the impression that the loners in these kinds of books—the literature of the outsider—were already free. They were always so unique, so gifted, so different from the environment they were predestined to escape. When I read Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, or Thomas Bernhard, I was unsettled by the impression that these authors had always been so much freer than those around them, how the story of first part of their life always looked like a struggle against the circumstances into which they had accidentally been born. But I never dreamed of fleeing. My dream was that my parents would look me in the eyes.

I wanted to invert the way the story of the outsider is told. If you say that those who flee have always been different, then you’ll just keep waiting for those individuals to reveal themselves, to set themselves apart. But if you say, Eddy wasn’t born very different, and he certainly did not want to be different, then it’s a story about how this difference is produced—how so much of what we are is created by the words of others.

You write so unflinchingly about your family.

Some scenes were difficult to write. I kept thinking, This is too intimate, too personal. But then I would think, That’s precisely what I must write. The rest, no one cares about. When the first gay or feminist movements emerged, conservatives responded by saying that sexuality or the role of women in daily life weren’t proper subjects for political debate. We often dismiss as too intimate those things we prefer to not talk about. Literature must persist in moving this border, to speak of the things society has relegated to silence and privacy.

Mixed in with the details of the violence you suffered and how you discovered your sexuality, there are chapters with analytical titles like “The Norms of Masculinity”—here the book sounds almost like a sociological survey.

I really believe you can tap into the deepest emotions by way of knowledge. Think about Simone de Beauvoir and The Second Sex. She writes in her own voice and relates real stories from women’s lives, but she also brings in history, sociology, even biology. By setting the history of the suffering of women in that larger context, the book was able to effect change. When Eddy cries at school because he was bullied, he thinks his tears are the result of the single wicked act of those who call him a faggot. But to write Eddy was, for me, a means of seeing Eddy’s tears as the product of the entire history of homophobia, of masculine domination, and of social violence which had preceded them. When I wrote it down, I understood that even our tears are political. That’s why this book is both a novel and an analysis. I don’t see any difference.

In France you’re often referred to as a kind of spokesperson for the working class—but you’ve been criticized for painting an unflattering picture of that very same class.

I wrote the book to give a voice to these people, to fight for them and with them, because they seem to have disappeared from the public eye. In the novel I use two languages—the one I use now, which is more “literary,” and the one I grew up with, the language of the excluded classes, which is completely absent from the public arena. When you make a language disappear you make the people who speak it disappear. My family would vote for Marine Le Pen, saying, We do it because she’s the only one who talk about us, the little people.” That wasn’t true, but it reveals the sentiment of invisibility that strikes the dispossessed. But I also critique the values of that culture. I don’t need to show that working-class values are above reproach in order to write against the social violence that produces them. To me it’s a crucial distinction—we don’t have to love a culture to support the people who comprise it. For many years we’ve made the mistake of confusing love with politics, as if supporting something politically meant loving everything associated with it, to the point of romanticizing poverty and misery to support the people who endure them. I’ll support prisoners who fight unjust conditions in jail, but that doesn’t mean I want to have dinner with them every day.

The full version of the interview is here

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Classé dans English, Entretiens, Littérature, Roman