Controversial French author Michel Houellebecq has won le Prix Goncourt, France’s top literary prize. The Globe & Mail reports:
Michel Houellebecq, a bestselling French author who has fanned controversy with his writings and comments on women and Islam, won France's most coveted literary prize Monday.But even with the prize win, it’s pretty clear that the novel, La Carte et Le Territoire, which translates as The Map and The Territory, won’t be for everyone:
Set largely in Paris, the novel tells of a solitary, misanthropic artist who becomes a critical darling and commercial success almost in spite of himself, first for his photographs of maps of regions of France and then for realistic paintings of business moguls.The Globe and Mail piece is here. We’ve previously covered several books by this author: the novels Platform and The Possibility of an Island, and the biography H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life.
In the book, released in September, the character, Jed Martin, befriends a reclusive writer whom the author named after himself, Michel Houellebecq. The writer's solitary nature and prickly personality echo the public persona of the author. The Houellebecq character is the victim of a grotesque murder, his body – and that of his dog – beheaded and cut into paper-thin strips of flesh.
The novel is part murder mystery, part meditation on the decline of postindustrial France – depicted as a sort of Disneyland for Chinese and Russian tourists. It is among Houellebecq's least overtly controversial books.