Sex With The Poor For Profit

Michel Houellebecq, the rogue bull of modern fiction, champions the unlikable in his new novel

Nobody does abjection like Michel Houellebecq. He's French, after all, so he has the exemplary squalor of Sartre, Celine and Genet to live up to. It was the state-of-the-art estrangement, plus the sex, that made his second novel, The Elementary Particles, a huge best seller in Europe and made Houellebecq (pronounced Well-beck) a heavily contested literary star. Last year he was acquitted by a French court of inciting racial hatred after he called Islam "the most stupid religion." (Does it help to know that his mother left him in childhood for an Arab and converted to Islam?) So is he a...

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