La carte et le territoire (review)


La carte et le territoire, winner of the 2010 Prix Goncourt and Michel Houellebecq’s first novel since La possibilité d’une île in 2005, may be the author’s most compelling work to date. Houellebecq has built a reputation on his ability to provoke, and the consistent polemic, in both the French and American media, that the publication of his novels has caused in previous years has established the author as one of the world’s leading literary enfants terribles. This latest novel is, however, something of a departure from the past: virtually absent from La carte et le territoire are the sorts of incendiary rants against Islam and sexual liberalism that fueled the affaires Houellebecq of 1998 and 2001; absent too is the outlandish talk of post-human utopia, cloning cults, and genetic engineering. Houellebecq, now in his fifties, is content in this most recent effort to tell the story of Jed Martin, a painter and photographer whose “trade portraits”—images of bartenders, businessmen, artists, and other professionals at work—catapult him to multi-million euro stardom in the waning years of industrial French and European civilization.

Read Article On Muse