I think Whatever is one of those books that every person in their thirties should read. I think that especially those who want to work hard and be included in the system should read. Well, I don’t know if such people have time to read a book, but Houellebecq both surprised me and made me think a lot with his second book I read. In fact, after reading The Elementary Particles, I knew that I would love this author very much, but with this book, I discovered other aspects of the author that I admired. The really horrible and beautiful part of it is that I found myself a little too much in this book.
Whatever slowly tells the life of a young man. We learn about his work, more or less his colleagues, his calmly flowing life. Then suddenly, things start to change; The waters fluctuate, the weather gets darker, a gloom is coming and unsettling everything. Even if you realise that you are going into a great disaster at full speed, you cannot stop yourself while reading, just like in life. I felt the loneliness of this character to my bones, and unfortunately, it is not a pleasant feeling at all.
You can understand that I had a massive turbulence in a hundred and fifty pages. On the first pages, you might say, “this is slow, let there be something exciting!” but on the following pages, you’ll be dying to slow down and “go back to normal”. Whatever is a good book, and Michel Houellebecq is an exciting author. If you’ve never read his work before, you can start reading his books by Whatever. Enjoy!
“Houellebecq captures precisely the cynical disillusionment of disaffected youth.”—Booklist
“This boy needs serious therapy. He may be beyond help.”—The Washington Post
Just thirty, with a well-paid job, depression and no love life, the narrator and anti-hero par excellence of this grim, funny, and clever novel smokes four packs of cigarettes a day and writes weird animal stories in his spare time.
A painfully realistic portrayal of the vanishing freedom of a world governed by science and by the empty rituals of daily life.
Michel Houellebecq is a multi-award-winning French author. He currently lives in Spain.
Michel Houellebecq; born Michel Thomas; 26 February 1956 or 1958) is a French author, known for his novels, poems and essays, as well as an occasional actor, filmmaker and singer.
His first book was a biographical essay on the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Houellebecq published his first novel, Whatever, in 1994. His next novel, Atomised, published in 1998, brought him international fame as well as controversy. Platform followed in 2001. He has published several books of poetry, including The Art of Struggle in 1996.
An offhand remark about Islam during a publicity tour for his 2001 novel Platform led to Houellebecq being taken to court for inciting racial hatred (he was eventually cleared of all charges). He subsequently moved to Ireland for several years, before moving back to France, where he currently resides. He was described in 2015 as “France’s biggest literary export and, some say, greatest living writer.” In a 2017 DW article he is dubbed the “undisputed star, and enfant terrible, of modern French literature”.
In 2010, he published The Map and the Territory, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt. In 2015, his next novel, Submission, sparked another controversy for its depiction of Islam. His latest novel, Serotonin, was published in 2019.
Houellebecq was born in 1956 on the French island of Réunion, the son of Lucie Ceccaldi, a French physician born in Algeria of Corsican descent, and René Thomas, a ski instructor and mountain guide. He lived in Algeria from the age of five months until 1961, with his maternal grandmother. In a lengthy autobiographical article published on his website (now defunct), he states that his parents “lost interest in [his] existence pretty quickly”, and at the age of six, he was sent to France to live with his paternal grandmother, a communist, while his mother left to live a hippie lifestyle in Brazil with her recent boyfriend.
His grandmother’s maiden name was Houellebecq, which he took as his pen name. Later, he went to Lycée Henri Moissan, a high school at Meaux in the north-east of Paris, as a boarder. He then went to Lycée Chaptal in Paris to follow preparation courses in order to qualify for grandes écoles (elite schools). He began attending the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon in 1975. He started a literary review called Karamazov (named after Fyodor Dostoevsky’s last novel) and wrote poetry. He graduated in 1980, married and had a son; then he divorced, and became depressed.
He married his second wife, Marie-Pierre Gauthier, in 1998. They divorced in 2010. His third marriage was in September 2018 to Qianyun Lysis Li, a Chinese woman 34 years his junior, and a student of his works.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: