Michael Houellebecq is a well-known and somewhat controversial author, filmmaker and one of the most influential French poets born on 26th February 1958 on the French island of Reunion. For some strange reason that is unknown his parent had no interest in their son. So they left him to live with his maternal grandmother when he was only five months old. At six years of age he was sent to his paternal grandparents who took care of him in every possible way. He studied at Meaux High School and then in Lycée Chaptal in Paris. Later he enrolled in the French Grandes ecoles which were the ‘elite schools’. He attended the ‘Institut National Agronomoique Paris-Grignon’ in 1975. Houellebecq began writing poems and a literary review named ‘Karamazov’.
Houellebecq graduated in 1980 as an agronomist. He got married the same year and had a son the next. However the marriage only lasted for five years. Bouts of depression followed the divorce and Houellebecq had to stay at a psychiatrist facility for rehabilitation. The unemployment made everything worst for him. Finally he landed a job at the French National Assembly. His depression led the way to his poetry and his first poem was published in 1985 in a magazine called ‘La Nouvelle Revue’. His biography of a French Horror writer ‘H P Lovecraft’ named ‘Against the World, Against Life’ came out in 1991. His fame started with his first novel ‘Extension du domaine de la lutte’ that was published in 1994. Its English translation is called ‘Whatever’. His second novel titled ‘Les Particules Élémentaires’ won the ‘1998 Prix Novembre’ becoming an instant ‘nihilistic classic’. Michel Houellebecq was also awarded the ‘International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award’ in 2002.
Houellebecq’s short fiction novel called ‘Lanzarote’ was released in 2000. It explored various topics including unconventional relations and cult leaders. His novel ‘Plateforme’ published in 2001 gave him a far reaching reputation. The book tells the story of a 40 year old man, who is an arts administrator. It contains several sex scenes and endorses prostitution and sex tourism. The novel openly criticized Islam which led to Michel Houellebecq facing many accusations from various organizations such as the Human Rights League (France) and the ‘World Islamic League’ along with many mosques. Houellebecq had to face charges for provoking hatred and religious discrimination.
Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 novel was ‘The Possibility of an Island’ which was also adapted into a film. He also launched an album ‘Présence humaine’ in 2000 in which he also sang portions of his poetry with a rock band. He was also called ‘pop star of the single generation’ by many people. His novel ‘The map and the Territory’ was published in 2010. It received the ‘Prix Goncourt’. His works have been criticized of being vulgar, obscene, racist and Islamophobic. He even stated that ‘Islam was the stupidest of religions.’ He has been sued for hate speeches and spreading of hatred by many civil rights groups.
After being alleged of starting racial hatred he shifted to Ireland for a few years. Presently, he resides in Spain with his second wife. His books are loved and hated equally by the public and critics.