Controversial French Novelist Reported Missing

Image of Michel Houellebecq in Poland via Mariusz Kubik/Wikipedia

Image of Michel Houellebecq in Poland via Mariusz Kubik/Wikipedia

French novelist Michel Houellebecq (reportedly pronounced WELL-beck) has gone missing, according to Bloomberg news agency. Houellebecq, the author of Atomised, Platform, The Possibility of an Island and a biography of HP Lovecraft, was on the eve of a book tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, promoting the release of the Dutch translation of his latest novel, The Map and the Territory.

The disappearance is the cause of some concern in publishing circles connected to the author because of the controversial and, at times, polarising nature of the author’s work. Houellebecq the man, who according to the Bloomberg report has struggled at times with mental illness, lives a quiet life in southern Spain. But Houellebecq the writer is variously described as an incisive visionary and a misogynistic nihilist.

Houellebecq’s novels have also at times seemed to have a prophetic quality, such as in the novel Platform, which ends (spoiler alert) with an attack on a tourist resort in Thailand by Muslim fundamentalists. The novel was published shortly before 9/11 and the Bali bombings a year later. Halfway into The Map and the Territory, the lead character, whose name is Houellebecq, is brutally murdered.

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