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The new novel from Michel Houellebecq, his first novel in five years

If Jed Martin, the main character of this novel, was to tell you its story, he would perhaps begin by talking about a boiler breaking down, one 15th December. Or about his father, a well-known and committed architect, with whom he passed alone many a Christmas Eve.

He would certainly recall Olga, a very pretty Russian he met at the start of his career, during the first exhibition of his photographs of Michelin road maps. This was before global success arrived with the series of ‘professions’, those portraits of personalities from all walks of life (including the writer Michel Houellebecq), captured at their work.

He should also say how he helped inspector Jasselin to solve an atrocious crime, whose terrifying scene left a lasting mark on the police teams.

At the end of his life he will find a certain serenity, and utter only murmurs.

Art, money, love, the father-son relationship, death, work, and France turned into a tourist paradise are some of the themes of this novel, which is resolutely classical and openly modern.

Reviews

A delicious exercise in satire and self-parody... His best ever

Daily Telegraph

The outlaw of French letters returns with an acerbic riff on art and celebrity... witty, wildly erudite

The Times

A dark master of invention... From the very first paragraph of this brilliant novel, the reader can be in no doubt that they're in the blisteringly bleak, darkly inventive grand massif that is Houellebeqc land

Evening Standard

This book, so beautifully written, so inspiriting for all its pessimism, is the new novel I have loved best this year. We have not his equal

David Sexton, Spectator

Impressive... Beguiling... He is a true original

Observer

Elegiac... Compelling... A pleasure to read

Times Literary Supplement

Have Michel Houellebecq and Martin Amis ever met? Despite a stylistic gulf…they might be spiritual cousins… In this Goncourt-winning novel, as amiably mischievous as the enfant terrible ever gets, his satirical burlesques of the Parisian art world and of tourist kitsch in La France Profonde comes closer to his cross-Channel twin than ever

Boyd Tonkin, Independent Radar

A wry, clever, ruthlessly self-lacerating novel

David Evans, Independent on Sunday

This novel delves into the French obsession with culture, its struggle with integrating modern ingenuities and its bittersweet obsession with elements of other cultures. It does it all anchored honestly and objectively in the richness and failings of what it is to be human.

Jane Fynes, Courier Mail

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099554578

    June 1, 2012

    Vintage

    304 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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  • EBook

    9781446473320

    October 1, 2011

    Cornerstone Digital

    304 pages

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