Filmaker, author, poet, Michel Houellebecq is notably one of the most controversial writers of France. The 63-year old recently has been awarded with the Legion of Honor, country’s highest award by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Seventh Novel: Serotonine
His latest novel, Serotonine, which was published in January 2019 has been critically acclaimed, and was sold in 90,000 copies within the first three days of its publication. The author is infamously known for his Islamophobia, misogynist beliefs, and a dark sense humour, which is distinctly illustrated in most of his works, and this book is no exception.
This book sketches a grim impression of his take on some of the current political and social subjects and an apprehensive vision about the unforeseen future.
Family Swapping – The Perfect Inspiration
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The Plot And Its Correlation With Contemporary France
The author, a protagonist, in the novel is a depressed agricultural engineer who is compassionate towards the plight of farmers. This is a linear analogy with France’s ailing agricultural situation today. Once known as Europe’s agricultural powerhouse, it is declining at a rapid rate while trying to adjust to the economic realities of the modern world.
The narrator is living on antidepressants after being abandoned by his lady love because of his infidelity. The title of the book “Serotonine” is traced from the dejected character of the protagonist where the antidepressant is degrading his physical and mental health similar to the gloomy backdrop of the plot.
The book again is similar to Michel’s other works that involve the relater engaging in loveless physical relations while trailing his ex-lover, which is often rendered a negative picture of his perspective towards women and has reaped criticism time and again.
Towards the climax of the story, the narrative sketches a direct correlation with the “gilets jaunes” or “Yellow Vest” (as the protestors wore yellow jackets) movement along with the famers protest which led to unrest and violence in France through the plot’s scene where farmers take arms against the state and go on to block roadways.
The “gilets jaunes” movement started initially, opposing fuel taxes and going on to become an anti-government protest. People across cities, semi-urban, and rural areas joined the movement. It included people from almost all working sectors, like, IT, factory and industries, to name a few. The citizens’ demands were to scrap the tax system currently imposed which was making it difficult to make ends meet for the middle-class France citizens.
What Does Critique Say?
The book gravely condemns the crisis of farmers in the country who are unable to retain the traditional farming and are struggling to survive amidst the industrial farming standards. The situation has led to numerous farmers committing suicide upon losing their lands. The rage inside them took an ugly turn when many came out to streets for protests through violence. The situation was also quoted as a “civil war” by some residents.
The book has highlighted some of the very deep and distressing realities that France is facing and is very provocative when it questions the State’s incapability in dealing with the current situation. The country is facing one of the worst civil unrest in the past 50 years. Michel’s vision even though may seem very sombre, one cannot dismiss the alarming state of affairs, which could possibly become worse if not acted upon soon. Michel has already gained popularity as a visionary because of his outlook on present situation of contemporary France and his perspective of the time ahead if things continue the way they are now. The book’s English version is expected to be published around end of the year.