Cures for Hunger

A Memoir
“This book is huge and achingly true.” —CLAIRE BIDWELL SMITH
Select Format

Growing up in rural British Columbia, Deni Ellis Béchard believes his charismatic father is infallible. Wild, unpredictable, even dangerous, André is worshipped by his young son, who believes that his father can do no wrong.

But when Deni’s mother leaves his father and decamps with her three children to Virginia, the boy learns of his father’s true identity. André Béchard was once a bank robber—and so Deni’s imagination is set on fire. Boyish rebelliousness gives way to fantasies of a life of crime. At once attracted and repelled, Deni can’t escape the sense that his father’s life holds the key to understanding himself, and to making sense of his own passions and longings. Only when he goes off to college, however, does Deni begin to unravel the story of his father’s life, eventually finding the Quebecois family that André left behind long ago.

At once a highly unconventional portrait of the artist as a young man and an extraordinary family story, Cures for Hunger is a deeply affecting memoir by one of the most acclaimed young writers in the world today.

Publish Date
5.25 × 8 × 1 in
10 oz

Praise and Prizes

  • “You haven’t read a story like this one, even if your father was the kind of magnificent scoundrel you only find in Russian novels. Deni Ellis Béchard is the rare writer who knows the secret to telling the true story. Just because the end is clear doesn’t mean the bets are off.”

    Marlon James
    author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
  • “This darkly comic and lyrical memoir demonstrates the shaping of its author, who suffers the wreckage of his father’s life, yet manages to salvage all the beauty of its desperate freedoms. Deni Ellis Béchard’s poetic gifts give voice to the outsiders of society, and make them glow with humanity and love.”

    Elizabeth McKenzie
    author of The Portable Veblen
  • Cures for Hunger is a poignant adventure story with a mystery… . But it is also, perhaps even more so, the story of an artist coming of age. Readers will be reminded of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

    Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • “Deni Ellis Béchard has created a moving story of rootlessness, rebellion, lost love, criminal daring, regret, and restless searching. Driven above all by the need to grasp his father’s secrets, he has written his narrative in skillful, resonant prose graced with a subtle tone of obsession and longing.”

    Leonard Gardner
    author of Fat City
  • “This powerful and haunting memoir is a must-read for anyone who has ever struggled to uncover their identity within the shadow of a parent. Written in exquisitely sharp prose, Deni Ellis Béchard combs through his attempt to understand his father’s mysterious existence with inspiring precision. This book is huge and achingly true.”

    Claire Bidwell Smith
    author of The Rules of Inheritance
  • “A coming of age story with rare and loving insights into the vulnerable hearts of men and boys—and the women that help shape them.”

    Huffington Post
  • Cures for Hunger is flush with tenderness… . Much more than a memoir of youthful misadventure, though it contains plenty of that. It’s also an exploration of the oppression of lineage, of familial duty, wanderlust, and perennial dissatisfaction, and the most American theme of them all: personal reinvention.”

    Iowa Review
  • “A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity.”