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Whatever
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Just thirty, with a well-paid job, no love life and a terrible attitude, the anti-hero of this grim, funny novel smokes four packs of cigarettes a day and writes weird animal stories in his spare time. A computer programmer by day, he is tolerably content, until he's packed off with a colleague - the sexually-frustrated Raphael Tisserand - to train provincial civil servants in the use of a new computer system Houellebecq's first novel was a smash hit in France, expressing the misanthropic voice of a generation. Like A Confederacy of Dunces, Houellebecq's bitter, sarcastic and exasperated narrator vociferously expresses his frustration and disgust with the world.
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'The mischief-making enfant terrible of new-wave French fiction' Independent

About the Author

Novelist and poet Michel Houellebecq was born in 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. His literary career began when, at twenty, he started to move in poetic circles in France. Whatever, Houellebecq's first novel, has been translated into several languages. Houellebecq's second collection of poems, Le sens du combat (The Meaning of the Fight), obtained the Prix Flore in 1996. In 1998, he received the prestigious Grand Prix National des Lettres Jeunes Talents for his literary work. He has also won the Prix Novembre (for Atomised). His first album, Presence Humaine, was released in 2000. He currently lives in Spain.

Reviews

Funny, terrifying and nauseating * Independent * The balance between philosophy and narrative detail is perfectly judged; the book slips down easily like a bad oyster. As is the nature of such things, it is grimly comic -- Nicholas Lezard * Guardian * Le grand fromage du jour * The Face * It could well turn out to be a cult here too ... astonishing * Time Out * Snappy, bite-sized, and often very funny. Is it European exhaustion? Is it the soul of man under late capitalism? Millenial gloom? Post-Christian despair? Is it the death of love? Whatever. But Houellebecq describes it perfectly * Literary Review * This boy needs serious therapy. He may be beyond help * Washington Post * The mischief-making enfant terrible of new-wave French fiction * Independent * Houellebecq captures precisely the cynical disillusionment of disaffected youth * Booklist *

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