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Who Killed My Father (2018)

by Édouard Louis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1869120,738 (3.8)11
Who Killed My Fatheris the story of a tough guy - the story of the little boy I never was. The story of my father. In Who Killed My Father, douard Louis explores key moments in his father's life, and the tenderness and disconnects in their relationship. Told with the fire of a writer determined on social justice, and with the compassion of a loving son, the book urgently and brilliantly engages with issues surrounding masculinity, class, homophobia, shame and social poverty. It unflinchingly takes aim at systems that disadvantage those they seek to exclude - those who have their expectations, hopes and passions crushed by a society which gives them little thought.… (more)
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» See also 11 mentions

English (4)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 4 of 4
This book was much shorter than I thought it would be. I found the duality of the father interesting - sometimes soft and caring and at other times hard and violent. There were moments of real tenderness, but also really painful moments such as being told by the father that he wishes he had had a different son. However, the context sees the father as a product of his environment and politics.... politics which have the power to kill (by differentiating groups of people and what is available to them). For instance, the father's class leads him to work in a factory whereby he has an injury and subequent government policies take away benefits and condemn him to a life of hardship.

Overall, i found this book much easier to read than history of violence, which also had an interesting subject matter. ( )
  Gemstar | Jun 25, 2021 |
Louis works through extremely smooth prose his repressive childhood of coming from a working class, homophobic family in small town France. The incisive observations about his father’s sense of self also served as broader commentary on France’s complicated relationship with socialism and desire to be part of the capitalist world’s elite. My only complaint about this book is that it was so short. I was left wanting more of Louis’s memories, family devastations, and political musings. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
I actually finished this book last year, but as with some books that I love so much, I hold off reviewing them because I feel like I can't review it perfectly enough to do it justice. Some books that have made me feel this way are Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider, George Bataille's Eroticism, and this book right here--Edouard Louis's Who Killed My Father.

It's a short book you can finish in a few hours, but so much time & pain has been distilled for these few hours of reading. So much violence has been faced, so much life drained, so much pain felt in so many individual bodies. This book relays the reality of political violence especially through the life & body of his father, whose back has been ruined from work in the factory. Political reality is often described in abstract or on collective terms. People are often reduced to objects of study & consideration to be debated with intellectual distance, the frame of understanding politics is often so dehumanizing, & this book I feel is such a fierce, fiery punch to that dehumanization.

When trying to answer the question of why are people poor, why did this demographic suffer more from illness, why did this community disproportionately die, there can be many political & sociological explanations. But in the book's frame, where we look at an individual life, The question of "Who Killed My Father" is answered with this paragraph that lists the names of politicians:

"Macron, Hollande, Valls, El Khomri, Hirsch, Sarkozy, Bertrand, Chirac. The history of your suffering bears these names. Your life story is the history of one person after another beating you down. The history of your body is the history of these names, one after another, destroying you. The history of your body stands as an accusation against political history”

The reality of political decisions made so swiftly, and often made with a level of self-interest by politicians, have such dire immediate and long-lasting consequences on so many individual lives. In the book, Edouard wrote how one simple political decision that doesn't affect others can mean life or death for the poor.

Today, in a pandemic, I thought I should share this book with you. As the world slips ever more into crisis, we see how decisions made so quickly push people ever more into food and shelter insecurity, lose their only source of income, & stay imprisoned in abusive homes. As surveillance & policing ramps up because that's how the state dominantly responds to crisis, we see foreign workers barred for ever working in Singapore if they are caught breaking social distancing rules. We see more & more citizens turned into potential criminals overnight as a bill passes into law. We see migrant workers, already so vulnerable, get disproportionately infected with the virus. In the eyes of the political system, are we human?

In the book, Edouard mentions repeatedly the notion of history as a force that obliterates individual life in its narrative. “Where is history? The history they taught at school was not your own. We were learning world history, and you were left out." / "“What we call history is nothing but the story of the same emotions, the same joys, reproduced across bodies and time”. It reminded me of John Berger saying "Every revolutionary protest is also a protest against people being the objects of history.".

At the end of the book, his father says "what we need is a revolution". We are not merely objects of history. Our vulnerable compatriots are not simply objects of history, & some so vulnerable that they will not even be historicised. My friends, we need a revolution. ( )
  verkur | Jan 8, 2021 |
Hm. Quick read. Not sure what to make out of it ( )
  kakadoo202 | Sep 25, 2019 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Édouard Louisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stein, LorinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tufvesson, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Who Killed My Fatheris the story of a tough guy - the story of the little boy I never was. The story of my father. In Who Killed My Father, douard Louis explores key moments in his father's life, and the tenderness and disconnects in their relationship. Told with the fire of a writer determined on social justice, and with the compassion of a loving son, the book urgently and brilliantly engages with issues surrounding masculinity, class, homophobia, shame and social poverty. It unflinchingly takes aim at systems that disadvantage those they seek to exclude - those who have their expectations, hopes and passions crushed by a society which gives them little thought.

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