3.56 (8,209 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

List price: US$14.99

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


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 computer programmer by day, he is tolerably content, until, that is, he's packed off with a colleague - the unimaginably ugly, sexually-frustrated virgin Raphael Tisserand - to train provincial civil servants in the use of a new computer system... A painfully realistic portrayal of the vanishing freedom of a world governed by science and by the empty rituals of daily life.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 121.92 x 190.5 x 12.7mm | 113.4g
  • Serpent's Tail
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1852425849
  • 9781852425845
  • 502,832

Review quote

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 * The mischief-making enfant terrible of new-wave French fiction * Independent * 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 * Funny, terrifying and nauseating * Independent * This boy needs serious therapy. He may be beyond help * Washington Post *
show more

About Michel Houellebecq

Novelist and poet Michel Houellebecq was born on the 26th of February 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. A novel of darkness and despair, it is, at the same time, full of humour.
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 prestigious Grand Prix National des Lettres Jeunes Talents for the entirety of his literary output. He has also won the Prix Novembre (for Atomised).

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.

He currently lives in Ireland.
show more

Rating details

8,209 ratings
3.56 out of 5 stars
5 18% (1,477)
4 37% (3,057)
3 31% (2,584)
2 10% (839)
1 3% (252)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X