From the very first paragraph of Suicide you’ll understand that Edouard Leve will bewilder you. Although it gives a great hint with its title, it will surprise you nonetheless because you would not expect such a striking thing in the first pages. You will find yourself reading an eighty-page book in one sitting, uncomfortably. And as far as I understand, there is no other way.
Edouard Leve committed suicide ten days after he handed over this book. Therefore, the suicide of the forty-two-year-old author appeared highly in the media. Some stated that the author was running a silly show and saw the book as an unsuccessful game. Others tried to evaluate the book independently from the author’s suicide.
Others, like me, have kept thinking about how real and striking the book is. Now even as I’m writing these sentences, I’m crushed under the weight of the book. I don’t know if it is his suicide or because of the way I felt. I felt so close to him and his thoughts while reading the book. And it is scary how I read some of his sentences over and over again. All I know is that this book affects people in many ways—a must-read.
Suicide cannot be read as simply another novel—it is, in a sense, the author’s own oblique, public suicide note, a unique meditation on this most extreme of refusals. Presenting itself as an investigation into the suicide of a close friend—perhaps real, perhaps fictional—more than twenty years earlier, Levé gives us, little by little, a striking portrait of a man, with all his talents and flaws, who chose to reject his life, and all the people who loved him, in favor of oblivion. Gradually, through Levé’s casually obsessive, pointillist, beautiful ruminations, we come to know a stoic, sensible, thoughtful man who bears more than a slight psychological resemblance to Levé himself. But Suicide is more than just a compendium of memories of an old friend; it is a near-exhaustive catalog of the ramifications and effects of the act of suicide, and a unique and melancholy farewell to life.
Édouard Levé (January 1, 1965 – October 15, 2007, Paris) was a French writer, artist and photographer. Levé was self-taught as an artist and studied business at the elite École supérieure des sciences économiques et commerciales. He began painting in 1991. Levé made abstract paintings but abandoned the field (claiming to have burned most of his paintings) and took up color photography upon his return from an influential two-month trip to India in 1995.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: