Houellebecq’s controversial novel, which caused an uproar in France last year, finally reaches our shores. Whether it will make similar waves here remains to be . An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of The Elementary Particles / Atomised by Michel Houellebecq.

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Not that many novels get chosen by me as Pick of the Week.

The Elementary Particles (Atomised) – Michel Houellebecq

After reading Atomisedthe reasons for this become clear. For against it, the contemporary British novel, with a few, scattered exceptions, suddenly seems timid, bogus, and footling. Not to mention atrociously written.

I was prodded into thinking this by a remark by Julian Barnes on the elementqry cover: He is right; houelleebecq Atomised also makes you wonder if other, ordinary writers have the coordination even to do the Shake ‘n’ Vac, let alone hunt fictional rabbits. It tells the story of two half-brothers, Bruno and Michel, both children of a libertine hippy mother who had as little as particlfs to do with their upbringing.


Houellebecq’s childhood was very similar to this; the two main characters can be seen as divergent yet related elements of his own self. Michel Djerzinski is a diligent, brilliant scientist who gives up his job as a researcher working on decoding genomes or whatever in order “to think”.

As his superior puts it: From time to time someone comes up with better equipment and they give him the Nobel Prize.

The Elementary Particles | novel by Houellebecq |

And, in passing, that the translation would appear to be first-rate. How particlws you not warm to a book that contains observations such as the following: Michel turns out to be a hero who rescues the human race from itself; his solution is a gauntlet Houellebecq throws down to all of us.

You may not like it; you’re not meant to. Michel’s half-brother, Bruno, is a more problematic individual; where Michel has virtually no sex drive at all, Bruno is obsessed, with the unfortunate twist that for long periods elementaru his life, he doesn’t get enough.


He exposes himself to a girl in the class to which he teaches literature; he is sent to a mental institution as was Houellebecq, if not for the same reason. He goes to a hippy holiday commune, the Lieu du Changement, elementart the vacuity of all New Age bullshit is brilliantly attacked. This is a bold and unsettling portrait of a society falling apart: There is not too much doubt that Houellebecq is an unpleasant person.

We’re no slouches in this regard, but France has a gift for producing nasty writers. One does not want to houellebceq his ideas on race too deeply, just yet. I would get this and read it before that particular time bomb explodes.

Fiction Michel Houellebecq reviews.