Michel Houellebecq   The Elementary Particles  
Michel Houellebecq    
read an excerpt from The Elementary Particles

reading from The Elementary Particles

  The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq is perhaps the most polarizing novel released in years. Readers either love it or hate it; there are simply no indifferent reactions. A bestselling sensation in the author's native France (the novel sold over 300,000 copies, an astonishing figure for a literary work), it divided the country's reading public and remains a divisive instigator of arguments at dinner parties and cafes on both sides of the Seine.

The novel is an extended attack on individualism and the generation that exploded in the streets of Paris in 1968, a screed against free love and free markets. Houellebecq rails against secularism, commercialism and the unrelenting culture of youth. It is angry and nihilistic, full of moralizing digressions, and yet it is funny and touching at the same time. Like J.G. Ballard, Houellebecq writes sentences that both horrify and attract, repulse yet amuse. And despite the caustic rants and invective, The Elementary Particles is a truly tender book. It is this unexpected duality that raises the novel from mere controversy-of-the-moment to a truly unique and exciting book that possesses something shockingly recognizable in its depiction of contemporary society, something not being written about by other authors. It's not an easy book, and for some it won't be an enjoyable read, but it is daring and innovative and rich in ideas.

--Larry Weissman
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