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Michel Houellebecq

(Updated on July 07, 2014)
© Roberto Frankenberg

Michel Houellebecq was born on the 26th of February, 1958, on the French island of Reunion. His father, a mountain guide, and his mother, an anesthesiologist, soon lost all interest in his existence. A half-sister was born four years later. At the age of six, Michel was given over to the care of his paternal grandmother, a communist, whose family name he later adopted. In France, he lived not far from Paris: first at Dicy (Yonne), then at Crecy-la-Chapelle. He attended boarding school at nearby Meaux for six years. Finally, he took preparatory courses prior to entering the French «grande ecole» system.

In 1980, he obtained a degree in agricultural engineering, and, that same year, married the sister of a classmate. A long period of unemployment followed. His son, Etienne, was born in 1981. Four years later, he divorced his wife. Finally, a bout with depression led to several stays at a psychiatric facility. He eventually found employment at the French National Assembly as an administrative secretary. His literary career began when, at twenty, he started to move in poetic circles. In 1985, he met Michel Bulteau, the editor of the Nouvelle Revue de Paris, who was the first to publish his poems. It was the beginning of a long and enduring friendship. In fact, it was Bulteau who suggested that he write a book for the «Infrequentables» series, which had been launched by Bulteau at the publishing house Le Rocher. This led to the publication, in 1991, of H. P. Lovecraft, contre le monde, contre la vie («H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life»). That same year saw the publication of Rester vivant, methode («To Stay Alive: A method»), by Difference. Then, in 1992, his first collection of poems, La poursuite du bonheur («The Pursuit of Happiness»), which went on to win the Prix Tristan Tzara.

In 1994, Maurice Nadeau published Extension du domaine de la lutte («Whatever»), Houellebecq’s first novel, which brought him a larger audience, and has since been translated into several languages. A novel of darkness and despair, it is, at the same time, full of humor. He went on to contribute to many a literary review (including L’atelier du roman, Perpendiculaires, from whose editorial board he was later ousted, and Inrockuptibles). Since 1996, Houellebecq’s work has been published by Flammarion, where Raphael Sorin is his editor. His second collection of poems, Le sens du combat («The Meaning of the Fight»), obtained the Prix Flore in 1996. In 1997, Rester vivant and La poursuite du bonheur, in revised form, were re-released in one volume. In 1998, he received the Grand Prix national des Lettres Jeunes Talents for the entirety of his literary output. Later, in the fall, Interventions, a collection of chronicles and critical texts, and Les Particules élémentaires («Atomised»), his second novel, were published simultaneously. The latter went on to win the Prix Novembre, and has since been translated into over 25 languages. In 1999, he collaborated on the screen adaptation of Extension du domaine de la lutte («Whatever»), with Philippe Harel, who directed the film. He also published a new collection of poems, Renaissance. The spring of 2000 saw the debut of his first album, Presence humaine, where he sings a number of his poems to the music of Bertrand Burgalat.

Currently he lives in Ireland, near Cork. A new book of photographs and text about Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, has been published in the fall of 2000.
In 2005, " The possibility of an island",an ambitioud novel.

Source : Michel Houellebecq's Official Website