Book review: The Suicide Shop

The Suicide Shop



Author: Jean Teulé
Translator: Sue Dyson
Publisher: Gallic
US Release date:
September 2013
Le Magasin des suicides
was first released in French in 2007
Pages: 169
ISBN: 978-1906040093
also available as ebook

fiction/black comedy


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Jean Teulé is quite a character, and you can perceive that through his quirky writing, whether in historical novels or in The Suicide Shop, recently translated into English. The last books I presented, A Wizard of Earthsea and Martin of Gfenn, had a great message on life. This book as well, though in a totally different genre.

Teulé actually got the idea of this novel while researching for his book on the life of the French poet Verlaine. He read about a  periodical founded by poets, called The Suicide Shop. This is a very hilarious book, with a great message, though the ending is bittersweet.

The Tuvache family is running a unique shop, providing their customers with all kinds of mean to put an end to their lives. You have to realize the story happens some time down the line, when life is hardly bearable on Earth, because of pollution and terrorism.

Their business is thriving, until they give birth to Alan (there’s a neat explanation on his name!), who already smiled to the customers as a baby. This is totally out of line with the profile of the shop! Alan grows into a very cheerful and optimistic boy to the utter horror of his parents, his brother and sister, as it could drive away customers.

‘He only ever notices the bright side of things,’ sighs Lucrèce, raising a hand that trembles with indignation. ‘We force him to watch the TV news to try and demoralize him’.
location 206

The characters are totally hilarious, each with his/her own debilities and idiosyncrasies. The customers as well!
And it is quite creative the things you can find in this shop!

Alan’s optimism and love get gradually contagious on the members of his family, and little by little turn upside down the very purpose of the shop.

I really enjoyed the message of the book, on how to find happiness in everything and how it can be your mission in life.

Their collective happiness, their sudden faith in the future and those radiant smiles on their faces are his life ’s work.
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There are also lough out loud passages on the government, but you would not expect less from a French author, would you?

The government, recognizing its own incompetence and its culpability, has decided to commit mass suicide tonight , live on TV! Can you prepare what’s needed?
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Let me specify that the translation was fabulous. I know how difficult it is to translate humor. This was flawless and so much fun, even in English.

Of course I didn’t like the ending of the book, but knowing Teulé, I was actually expecting it and it didn’t come as a surprise. Typically quirky French literature!

VERDICT: A quirky and hilarious French novel, typical of Teulé, about finding and spreading happiness.


Has your life been a failure? Let’s make your death a success With the twenty-first century just a distant memory and the world in environmental chaos, many people have lost the will to live. And business is brisk at The Suicide Shop. Run by the Tuvache family for generations, the shop offers an amazing variety of ways to end it all, with something to fit every budget. The Tuvaches go mournfully about their business, taking pride in the morbid service they provide. Until the youngest member of the family threatens to destroy their contented misery by confronting them with something they have never encountered before: a love of life.


Jean Teulé

Jean Teulé lives in the Marais with his partner, the French film actress Miou-Miou.
An illustrator, filmmaker and television presenter,
he is also the prize-winning author of ten books including one based on the life of Verlaine.
He has also written biographies of Rimbaud and François Villon.
Gallic Books has published three of Teulé’s novels:
the black comedy The Suicide Shop
and two novels based around true historical events: the terrifying  Eat Him If You Like and bawdy tragi-comedy The Hurlyburly’s Husband.
Read an interview with Jean Teulé.
View all books by Jean Teulé or discover more Gallic authors

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What quirky author do you enjoy?

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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through Netgalley.
I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

This book counted for these Reading Challenges

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7 thoughts on “Book review: The Suicide Shop

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