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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,322 ratings  ·  406 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 2008)
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Shane I would say at LEAST 17 or so. The book opens up with a scene that would not be the best for anyone who is sensitive to suicide, no matter what the ag…moreI would say at LEAST 17 or so. The book opens up with a scene that would not be the best for anyone who is sensitive to suicide, no matter what the age. (less)

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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  3,322 ratings  ·  406 reviews

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Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
“Given that I am speaking to you, are you dead?”

This particular book has been sitting on my e-book reader for ages - so long, in fact, that I don’t recall why I downloaded it in the first place - but then last night I decided to randomly read the first page and damn, was that first paragraph hooking:

(Trigger warning: suicide)

“One Saturday in the month of August, you leave your home wearing your tennis gear, accompanied by your wife. In the middle of the garden you point out to her that you’ve fo
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: france
Suicide is a brief novel in which the narrator itemizes selected fragmentary details of the life (and death) of a friend who killed himself some twenty years before; these details vary from the particular and anecdotal to the abstract and philosophical. What results is a meandering archeology of suicide itself, both as an individualistic act and as a general phenomenon. The text itself remains incomplete, however, without its necessary epilogue: the author Edouard Levé committed suicide only ten ...more
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the center of this book lies a heavy sense of despair, now balled up and lodged somewhere deep inside my belly. It weighs me down even in all my alive-ness. Given that Levé killed himself a mere 10 days after handing the manuscript to his publisher, Suicide does not give to hindsight: it is impossible to read it as a novel that isn't fundamentally also the author's public suicide note.

Ostensibly a searing, pointillistic prose portrait of a friend who chose to violently end his own life 20 ye
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

«You did not fear death. You stepped in its path, but without really desiring it: how can one desire something one doesn't know? You didn't deny life but affirmed your taste for the unknown, betting that if something existed on the other side, it would be better than here.»

I feel as if I’ve lost a friend.
I am numb.
The reader cannot help but view Levé ‘s Suicide as Levé’s Suicide note…

Of course this novel should come with a “trigger warning” on the cover. I can’t decide where this emptiness I
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Your ghost remains upright in my memory, while your skeleton is decomposing in the earth.

A bare, unadorned recounting of the suicide of the author’s friend, and the life he lived until that point. I say author and not narrator, because, as is widely known, the author committed suicide ten days after handing in the manuscript. As the book unfolds each page will carry the depth and weight of that knowledge, and the reader cannot help but respond with great sympathy.

In the description of the frien
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Leve, as the whole world and his goat knows, delivered the manuscript of Suicide to his publishers and committed suicide ten days later, thus ensuring immediate and spectacular (posthumous) literary canonisation.

Primarily a photographer, Leve likes a certain formal distance in subject -object interaction, a reserved detachment which works well with his photography and yields mixed results in Suicide.

In a series of photo portraits under the thema of pornography, Leve does this:


and this


Clothed por
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
"Birth befalls me

Life occupies me

Death completes me"
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"You seldom spoke because you seldom went out. If you did go out, you listened and watched. Now, since you no longer speak, you will always be right. In truth, you do still speak: through those, like me, who bring you back to life and interrogate you. We hear your responses and admire their wisdom. If the facts turn out to contradict your counsel, we blame ourselves for having misinterpreted you. Yours are the truths, ours are the errors.

You remain alive insofar as those who have known you outli
Harun Ahmed
Feb 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never again will he wake.
"Never again will you wake
Never again will you know
The unremitting, unrelenting grievous
Pain of waking."
_Jibanananda Das*

So,how to review this book?this is edouard leve's novel which is literally his suicide note!! he committed suicide on 15th october,2007 shortly after giving the manuscript to his editor. it feels surreal to read and absorb someone's suicide note. Leve narrated the story in second person which makes it more heart breaking.this novel is mind numbing,perp
Eddie Watkins
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-fiction
Death was never such a clean reading pleasure.

Absolute despair is the unspoken center of this novel. Radiating around it are crisply clinical depictions and descriptions of disconnected experiences haunted by this despair (with suicide as foreknowledge).

Despair is an intimate stranger studied with cold obliquity.

Total cool never penetrated so deeply.

A chill runs through the reader.

Suicide has never been so exhilarating; so cold, so paradoxically warming.

Suicide as a way to preserve one's clarit
Jim Coughenour
Oulipo, the movement founded in 1960 by a group of French writers committed to the creation of literature using constrained writing techniques, produced works generally more interesting in conception than in execution – novels composed without the letter "e"; the same trivial scene narrated in multiple styles; etc. Edouard Levé's Suicide takes the experiment to its annihilating limit. A short book composed as a meditation to a friend who killed himself, it instantiates itself as a suicide note. ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
It seems impossible to discuss Edouard Levés Suicide without discussing Edouard Levés suicide, and indeed I am not sure it was such a smart move to write as a blurb "Edouard Levé delivered the manuscript for his final book, Suicide, just a few days before he took his own life." Or maybe it doesnt matter, those who are interested in this small novel will most likely know about it anyway before finally reading the book. But I could not help myself to go to this few lines over and over again, stop ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: french
Breaks and mismatches between fiction and autobiography

Edouard Leve died by suicide shortly after delivering the manuscript of this book to the publisher, and that fact has overrun the critical reception. The book provides a good test case for the possibility of detaching biography from the experience of fiction: it isn't possible to read the book without continuously jumping out of the fictional setting and wondering about the actual author; but at the same time it is possible to see through th
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

Quietus as art
vignettes of self-cancelling
lucid sadnesses
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I had high expectations for this book and it ended up not meeting them by far.
As a literary work, I find that the book seems to be a series of aphorisms put together without giving much cohesion to the whole, making for a very fragmented reading experience which takes from the enjoyment of the book. Moreover, and being suicide a theme that I read about quite frequently in fiction, it didn't bring anything new or inovative, quite on the contrary.
What makes the book a bit more interesting though i
Zahra, meh.
Given that I am speaking to you, are you dead?

Being forgotten spares me the trouble of having to shine.

You were not surprised to feel yourself ill adapted to the world, but it did surprise you that the world had produced a being who now lived in it as a foreigner. Do plants commit suicide? Do animals die of hopelessness? They either function or disappear. You were perhaps a weak link, an accidental evolutionary dead end, a temporary anomaly not destined to burgeon again.

As my thoughts turn to yo
Aug 05, 2015 marked it as to-read
Here's how I'd do it : Blow my money on a one-way ticket to some scenic Alpine village on a lake, weight my pockets with stones, walk right out into that cool lake until all of this ain't no more, and the last thing I see is mountain, lake, sun, sky, cloud, green and blue light... ...more
Vera V.
I knew this book would be rather unconventional prior to starting it. I like to think I bask in originality and in the works that present them (literature, in this case.)

Albeit hesitant about reading a translated work, I think Jan Steyn truly did a wonderful job - I have no way of knowing for sure.

This book is a stream of consciousness, continuously marveling me at the author’s ability to circle back to the original theme - suicide. It is philosophical. Admittedly, I am afraid I was only able t
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I've been trying to sum up my thoughts about this book and I still can't. I will say, try to read it away from the context of the author's own suicide - or at least, not only in that context. And don't give in to the temptation to read this purely as psychological case study because this is a marvel of literary virtuosity, a portrait of someone Leve knew, an exploration of character and grief, and to reduce it to a kind of literary suicide note is to lose so much of the richness here. ...more
Tanuj Solanki
In one episode in Levé's Suicide, the protagonist buys second-hand shoes and goes to a party wearing them. There he learns, through some not-so-important coincidence, that the previous owner of the shoes had committed suicide. But is second-hand shoes a popular concept in France?

Never heard of it, cannot imagine it.


And this complicates things

“I do not buy used shoes”

Excerpt From: Edouard, Levé. “Autoportrait.” Dalkey Archive Press,
Did a review of this book here: https://youtu.be/_WTC3cBBrAo ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Three things to know about Edouard Levé’s Suicide:

1) Sometime in the 1980’s, a childhood friend of Levé’s, with whom he had lost touch, committed a very carefully planned suicide at the age of twenty-five.
2) Twenty years later, Levé wrote the novel Suicide, using a second-person narration to meditate upon the life and death of his late friend.
3) Ten days after turning in the manuscript, Levé committed suicide himself.

Reading Suicide is a fascinating and uncomfortable experience. In the French ar
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-bought
To remove oneself from this world is a very strange journey, and Édouard Levé's "Suicide" goes into detail in a character's thoughts and actions before committing suicide. It reads like a Robert Bresson film, where objects and one's social life expresses an emptiness that's intense but also mundane. The shocking aspect of this novel has Levé killed himself right after finishing and delivering this novel. So, one can see "Suicide" as his note to the world, but it's very constructed in a very unem ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The rating is not a recommendation. As I was reading Suicide, it occurred to me that I would not feel comfortable recommending it to anyone, regardless of how excellent it is, how raw, or how truthful.
Colin Miller
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Édouard Levé’s Suicide is a character study that will inevitably be known more for the story outside of the book.

The novella opens with a powerful opening paragraph about the suicide of a friend that occurred 20 years earlier. There’s just one caveat: Édouard Levé committed suicide himself just 10 days after turning in the manuscript, so it is, in a way, his long form suicide note. After the initial plot point, there’s really little else that happens in the 123-page read. It’s simply a collecti
Michael Palkowski
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Christen Harm
A eulogistic piece of writing written in the second person narrative that weaves together the experiences and life of the writer and the subject of death. Leve writes about himself as much as he writes about his friend. He address dying head on and is comforted by the free will in suicide, the act of living in death and his reflections, strength and passion is sad, subtle and unimposing. He writes more fluidly here than in his other works, but the disconnect is in his choice of subject and in hi ...more
Adam Dalva
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an interview with the translator of this slim novel complaining about the back jacket giveaway, but I think it's a horrifying, intellectually stimulating experience to read this knowing that Leve killed himself ten days after handing in the manuscript. It gives the experience some of the same qualities as that great Wallace story, "Good Old Neon," (whose true depth, sadly, was only known years later). We read these pieces voyeuristically and it invests some of the slower passages with muc ...more
Dec 23, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: small-press
One of the most gripping first paragraphs I've read in ages:

"One Saturday in the month of August, you leave your home wearing your tennis gear, accompanied by your wife. In the middle of the garden you point out to her that you've forgotten your racket in the house. You go back to look for it, but instead of making your way toward the cupboard in the entryway where you normally keep it, you head down into the basement. Your wife doesn't notice this. She stays outisde. The weather is fine. She's
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an odd, improbable thing. A short novel addressed in the second person to a friend who committed suicide by a man who would commit suicide 10 days after finishing it. It's obviously somewhat impossible to read this book without keeping Leve's own suicide in mind.

The austere, almost pointillist style of his book 'Auto-portrait' is expanded here as he ruminates about what it means for a person to end their own life, about the perpetual mystery around it, about how it reshapes, re-orients
Cassandra Troyan
I postponed my reading of this for so long perhaps due to my proclivity for disaster and all the pressures that exhume it. Truly painful lucidity, and pertinent to the fetish of void-leaping. The presence never fades, but in acrid visibility there might be more forgiveness to selfish irresolution. I still really think that no one wants to do die. For each person, time winds itself until one must die.

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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.

Levé's first book, Oeuvres (2002), is an imagin

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“You were said to have died of suffering. But there was not
as much sadness in you as there is now in those who
remember you. You died because you searched for
happiness at the risk of finding the void.”
“You were not surprised to find yourself ill adapted to the world, but it did surprise you that the world had produced a being who now lived in it as a foreigner. Do plants commit suicide? Do animals die of helplessness? They either function or disappear. You were perhaps a weak link, an accidental evolutionary dead end, a temporary anomaly not destined to burgeon again.” 91 likes
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