The Posthumous Anthony Bourdain Biography Is Already Receiving Saucy Reviews

When Anthony Bourdain took his life over four years ago, he left an irreplaceable void in the food world. It's hard to deny the chef, writer, and TV personality's distinctiveness among his peers, regardless of whether or not you were a fan of his signature machismo — and, likewise, whether or not you agree with those who criticized his memoir "Kitchen Confidential" for glorifying questionable behind-the-scenes restaurant behavior. 

It's also hard to ignore the scope of Bourdain's mainstream influence on adventurous eating. In an interview with Mashed, his friend and fellow TV host Andrew Zimmern called him "the most dynamic and engaging and fascinating human being," adding that he was beloved not only for his "charm" and "brilliance," but also for his ability to be "cunning" and "beautifully evil." Many Bourdain fans will agree that the man's capacity to display these emotional highs and lows onscreen was part of what made him so compelling to watch on "No Reservations" and "Parts: Unknown." As documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville said in a New Yorker interview about his 2021 film "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain," the chef "played himself" on TV. 

As much as "Roadrunner" exposed little-known details of Bourdain's life, Charles Leerhsen's upcoming biography "Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain" takes an even more intimate look at the chef's painful final days. Ahead of its October 11, 2022, release, The New York Times reports that the self-proclaimed "unauthorized biography" is already receiving flack from Bourdain's inner circle. 

'Hurtful and defamatory fiction'

Penned by former Sports Illustrated executive editor Charles Leerhsen and published by Simon & Schuster, The New York Times writes that "Down and Out in Paradise" is chock-full of "fresh, intimate details," such as text messages exchanged between Anthony Bourdain and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain (to whom he remained close after their separation in 2016) and his girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento. "I am lonely and living in constant uncertainty," Bourdain wrote in one message. "I hate being famous. I hate my job," he wrote in another. 

Leerhsen's book — which uses over 80 interviews and is bolstered by files and correspondences from Bourdain's personal phone and computer — will surely be a difficult read for any fan of Bourdain's, especially those who have lost a loved one to suicide. This is certainly the case for those closest to Bourdain, who not only found the book difficult, but also factually inaccurate. NYT reports that Anthony Bourdain's brother, Christopher Bourdain, reached out to Simon & Schuster on two separate occasions in August 2022, demanding to postpone the book's release, calling it a work of "hurtful and defamatory fiction." In an interview cited by NYT, he added that, "Every single thing [Leerhsen] writes about relationships and interactions within our family as kids and as adults he fabricated or got totally wrong." The publisher dismissed the request for a delayed release.