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4.5.05

Houellebecq's New Novel

Just because, from time to time, I like to scoop the Litblog Cabal, most of whom ignore me completely, an article (Houellebecq: un nouveau roman, May 4) from France 2 Cultural News announces the publication of Michel Houellebecq's new novel, La possibilité d'une île, his fourth. It will appear in stores simultaneously in France, Germany, England, Italy, Spain, and the United States, on September 1. According to the article, he is "the most translated living French writer" (which sounds absolutely plausible), and his novels—Extension du domaine de la lutte, Particules élémentaires (a huge success), and Plateforme (something of a dud)—are available in 35 languages. Houllebecq left his old publisher Flammarion last month, to move over to Fayard, who will publish the new book. GMT Productions has already purchased the rights to make the new book into a movie, which shows you just how big Houllebecq has become.

What we have here is a "sad book," adds the novelist, who believes "that we do not cry often enough these days and that it's good for your health." Houllebecq is not saying much about his new novel but has given some hints. He says that he has done some research on sects before writing it and that he bought a large Mercedes and has driven in it for hours on the highway.

"We remain with two average characters, two men, one age 60 and the other 30. I have not strayed from my objective, which is to chronicle everyday people. That is surely where I am most ambitious. The more you dwell on everyday, universal things, the harder it is. It's much easier to write about a lesbian serial killer. [...] I firmly believe that we will eventually see everything: an artificial uterus, cloning, genetic mutations. It's an unstoppable process, and it will profoundly change humanity. So, we must talk about it."
In this conversation, Houllebecq also "somewhat regretted his comments about Islam," which he once described as "la religion la plus con" (I would translate it as "the fucking stupidest religion," which sort of gets across how terribly vulgar and rude he was being). He apparently finished the novel during a several-week stay in Andalusia and now returns to his home in Ireland, "where his dog Clément is waiting for him."

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