In his incandescent autofiction, Édouard Louis has remade his painful youth as literature, and in doing so has become one of his country’s most famous literary exports. His debut, “The End of Eddy,” was a hardscrabble portrait of growing up gay and poor in northern France. He has explored this milieu in three subsequent volumes, including “A Woman’s Battles and Transformations,” now available in Tash Aw’s English version.
Like his European confrère Karl Ove Knausgaard, Louis has turned to the novel as a way to process traumatic personal history, finding a sympathetic global audience in the process. But while Knausgaard’s “struggle” takes place largely on interior planes, Louis describes his personal and familial travails in terms of political forces. This has paved the way for his rising renown — he became a prominent commentator in English-language outlets during the French anti-government protests in 2018-19. Much of his work has been adapted for the stage, and a fifth book has already been published in French. Louis, not yet 30, is un phénomène.
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