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Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq was born on the 26th of February, 1958, on the French island of Reunion. At the age of six, Michel was given over to the care of his paternal grandmother, a communist, whose family name he later adopted.

In 1980, he obtained a degree in agricultural engineering, and that same year, married the sister of a classmate. His literary career began when, at twenty, he started to move in poetic circles. In 1985, he met Michel Bulteau, the editor of the Nouvelle Revue de Paris, who was the first to publish his poems. It was the beginning of a long and enduring friendship. In fact, it was Bulteau who suggested that he write a book for the "Infrequentables" series, which had been launched by Bulteau at the publishing house Le Rocher. This led to the publication, in 1991, of H. P. Lovecraft, contre le monde, contre la vie ("H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life"). In 1994, Maurice Nadeau published "Extension du domaine de la lutte", Houellebecq’s first novel, which brought him a larger audience, and has since been translated into several languages. A novel of darkness and despair, it is, at the same time, full of humor.

In 1998, he received the Grand Prix national des Lettres Jeunes Talents for the entirety of his literary output. Later, in the fall, "Interventions", a collection of chronicles and critical texts, and "Les Particules élémentaires" («Atomised»), his second novel, were published simultaneously. The latter went on to win the Prix Novembre, and has since been translated into over 25 languages. In 1999, he collaborated on the screen adaptation of "Broadening the Field of Struggle" ("Extension du domaine de la lutte"), with Philippe Harel, who directed the film. The novel "The Map and the Territory" (La Carte et le Territoire) was released in September 2010 by Flammarion and won the Prix Goncourt. 

Michel Houellebecq is among the most famous and controversial French authors and filmmakers. His first novel, Whatever ("Broadening the Field of Struggle") recreates the crushingly boring lives of two computer programmers. The Elementary Particles is a mixture of social commentary and blunt descriptions of sex. Three hundred thousand copies had been sold in France, so Houellebecq became an international star and a fierce debate began over whether he should be hailed as a brilliant realist in the great tradition of Balzac or dismissed as an irresponsible nihilist. 

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