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2020 Shortlist

History of Violence

Translated from the French by Lorin Stein
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ABOUT
THE BOOK

I met Reda on Christmas Eve 2012, at around four in the morning. He approached me in the street, and finally I invited him up to my apartment. He told me the story of his childhood and how his father had come to France, having fled Algeria. We spent the rest of the night together, talking, laughing. At around 6 o’clock, he pulled out a gun and said he was going to kill me. He insulted me, strangled and raped me. The next day, the medical and legal proceedings began.

History of Violence retraces the story of that night, and looks at immigration, class, racism, desire and the effects of trauma in an attempt to understand a history of violence, its origins, its reasons and its causes.

Dramatised reading of History of Violence, performed by Johnny Ward and produced by Bazar Productions.

Irish writers Caelainn Hogan and Jessica Traynor discuss History of Violence and speak to the book’s author Édouard Louis, and translator Lorin Stein.

 

Comments from the Judging Panel

Édouard Louis plunges us into an apparently ordinary world where everything can be blown away at the first breath of wind, where there is not only physical danger, but our preconceptions might also get smashed to smithereens along the way. One evening, the main character brings a stranger home, and is subjected to an horrific assault. However, Louis shows us that the aftermath of an attack can be an equally powerful form of brutality. History of Violence, with a taut translation from French by Lorin Stein, is a daring exploration of violence, sexuality and race in contemporary France.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Édouard
Louis

Édouard Louis is the author of two novels and the editor of a book on the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and Freeman’s. His first novel, The End of Eddy, was translated into more than twenty-five languages, and has made him one of the most celebrated writers of his generation.

Édouard Louis is the author of two novels and the editor of a book on the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian and Freeman’s. His first novel, The End of Eddy, was translated into more than twenty-five languages, and has made him one of the most celebrated writers of his generation.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Lorin
Stein

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

It is a book about a trauma – a man is raped – and what it is to write it, tell it and share it.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Country
France
Original Language
French
Publisher
Harvill Secker
Translator
Lorin Stein
Translation
Translated from the French by Lorin Stein

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