Michel Houellebecq: Sérotonine (Serotonin)

The latest addition to my website is Michel Houellebecq‘s Sérotonine (Serotonin). This is another controversial novel from Houellebecq. The main character. Florent, is an agronomist and he shows us that French agriculture (and other aspects of the French economy) is facing serious problems. At the same time, we follow the story of Florent who, to get away from his job studying French agriculture and from his Japanese girlfriend, goes off grid, abandoning job, flat and girlfriend and moving to a hotel in an unfashionable part of Paris. He does not sever contact with everyone, visiting Aymeric, his old college friend and now a farmer facing huge problems on his dairy farms (primarily because of EU policies – Houellebecq is very anti-EU) and trying to re-establish contact with two old girlfriends, which does not work out very well. In particular, he takes a new (fictitious) drug, Caprizol for his depression and it has strange effects on him. It is a well-written though very contrarian book. Florent is not a loveable hero but his lifestyle choice make interesting reading. It will be out in English in September 2019, though is already available in German.

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6 Comments

  1. in what sense is this one controversial?

  2. FoxSolent

    There’s another French contemporary writer who is the complete opposite to Houellebecq and who has a lot to say about the times we live in. It’s Marc-Edouard Nabe.

    Funnily enough he knew Houellebecq in the nineties and Houellebecq was evidently inspired by him, though he never acknowledged it publicly. Nabe wrote about Houellebecq in several books though. Still untranslated unfortunately but there’s a video of his first famous and scandalous 1985 TV appearance with English subtitles:

    https://youtu.be/2XM6SksSlVw

    • tmn

      I do have a copy of one of Nabé’s novel – L’enculé. However, even though we share a birthday, he has not made his way to the top of my pile. Maybe I should give him a go. Thanks for your comments.

  3. FoxSolent

    You’re welcome. ‘L’Enculé’ is a hilarious book but probably his most daring and shocking novel. Houellebecq’s narrators seem small beer compared to Nabe’s fictive first-person portrayal of Dominique Strauss-Kahn…

    The previous one, ‘L’Homme qui arrêta d’écrire’ (shortlisted for Renaudot 2010) is a vast depiction of contemporary Paris modelled on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Less provocative but very thought-provoking nonetheless…

    • tmn

      Thanks. I’ll look out for L’Homme qui arrêta d’écrire. Passé simple in a modern book title – impressionant!

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