From The Guardian:
Enfant terrible awarded Légion d’honneur as ‘scathing, visionary’ novel Serotonin is released
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris, @achrisafis
Fri 4 Jan 2019 07.36 EST Last modified on Fri 4 Jan 2019 16.55 EST
He is idolised as France’s biggest literary export, a controversial poet-provocateur who holds up a mirror to the grim truths of contemporary France.
So when Michel Houellebecq’s long-awaited novel, Serotonin, hit French bookstores on Friday morning with a massive print run of 320,000 copies, translations in several countries, and the author for the first time staying silent and refusing any interviews or media promotion, it was proclaimed a national event.
The novel’s release was accompanied by the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest national honour, being bestowed on the 62-year-old enfant terrible for his services to French literature by the president, Emmanuel Macron.
Serotonin, the story of a lovesick agricultural engineer who writes trade reports for the French agriculture ministry and loathes the EU, has been hailed by the French media as scathing and visionary. The novel rails against politicians who “do not fight for the interests of their people but are ready to die to defend free trade”.
Written before the current gilets jaunes anti-government movement began blockading roundabouts and tollbooths across France, it features desperate farmers in Normandy who stage an armed blockade of roads amid police clashes.
The man has a knack.
… Elisabeth Philippe wrote in L’Obs: “That whole aesthetic of the ‘old white male’ is dated, past its sell-by date and clearly no longer brings anything good. ‘What’s the point in trying to save a vanquished old white male?’ the narrator asks. What’s the point, indeed.”
… Houellebecq has often appeared behind and in front of the camera, and has reportedly been filming with the actor Gérard Depardieu, with the two men playing characters at a seaside spa.
Now, there is a real contest to see who is more decrepit looking: Houellebecq or Depardieu?