Édouard Louis is a French writer, whose two novels translated into English are The End of Eddy (2017) and History of Violence (2018). His third, Who Killed My Father, is published in April. (2019)

Follow Édouard Louis on Twitter: @edouard_louis.

NYR DAILY

‘The Pain Never Went Away’

Workers relaxing in a local bar, Sangatte, Pas-de-Calais, northern France, 1989

The problems had started in the factory where you worked. I described it in my first novel, The End of Eddy: one afternoon we got a call from the factory informing us that something heavy had fallen on you. Your back was mangled, crushed. They told us it would be several years before you could walk again, before you could even walk. The first weeks you stayed completely in bed, without moving. You’d lost the ability to speak. At first you could only ask for food or drink, then over time you began to use longer sentences, to express your desires, your cravings, your fits of anger. Your speech didn’t replace your pain. Because of what they’ve done to your body, you will never have a chance to uncover the person you’ve become.