Michel Houellebecq's work is an unflinching exploration of contemporary society's existential crises, interweaving provocative themes of sexual politics, alienation, and cultural tension with an inimitable blend of cynicism and insight.
The controversial French writer's new memoir, "Quelques Mois dans ma Vie" (A Few Months in My Life), published in May 2023, reveals two recent scandals that embroiled his life. But instead of pitying Houellebecq for his misfortune, author RJ Smith argues it's time for Houellebecq to look in the mirror.
Houellebecq is fighting what he believes to be a virtuous war on several fronts—against the inhuman interlopers who betrayed him to make a name for themselves; against the lies of the camera that assault the truth of the written word; and against the moral turpitude of almost everyone but himself.
In addition to chatting about Houellebecq's life and work, we dig into France's tumultuous colonial past and its present-day fallout, which often shows up as tension between French citizens of Maghrebi (North African) descent and the broader French population, a theme you'll find throughout Houellebecq's recent work. Our talk happened just after riots broke out across France after the murder of a Maghrebi teen, Nahel Merzouk.