Michel Houellebecq

© Philippe Matsas and Flammarion

“Economic liberalism is the extension of the field of combat – its extension to all ages of life and all classes of society.” Writer, poet, essayist, novelist and director, Michel Houellebecq relates the abuses of contemporary society, its elements of absurdity and the solitude of the individual. His characters – embittered, solitary or distant narrators – provide a critique of capitalism and liberalism, which, in his view, have infiltrated all parts of life: social relations, but also sexuality. A controversial writer who is both adulated and despised, he is nonetheless a major figure of the French literary scene. His writing is inspired by everyday language and the mind-numbing discourse of magazines. It is considered by his detractors to lack style, and by his supporters as entirely innovative.

Born in 1958 in La Réunion, he was raised by his grandmother, in France, where he studied agronomics, then cinema, from 1975 to 1981. He initially worked as a computer scientist, yet his literary career began very early on, in the late 1970s. In 1985, he made a decisive encounter when he met Michel Bulteau, director of the Nouvelle Revue in Paris, who was the first to publish his poems. He was later introduced to a wide audience with his first novel, Whatever (1994), then Platform (2001). Since then, he has become a major author and has garnered numerous prizes, including the Goncourt Prize in 2010, for The Map and the Territory.


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