Synopses & Reviews
Michel Renault is a human void. Following the death of the father he barely knew, he endures his civil service job while eking out an existence of prepackaged pleasure, hollow friendships, TV dinners, and pornography. On a group holiday in Thailand, however, he meets the shyly compelling Valérie, who soon pursues an agenda that Michel himself could never have thought possible: his own humanization.
Back in Paris, they plunge into an affair that strays into S&M, public sex, and partner swapping, even as they devise a scheme to save Valérie's ailing travel company by capitalizing on the only trade Michel has seen flourish in the Third World. Before long, he quits his job, and their business model for "sex tourism" is gradually implemented. But when they return to Thailand, where Michel's philosophy will be put into practice, he discovers that sex is neither the most consuming nor dangerous of passions...
From a suburbanized West crippled by hate crime to an East subsumed by materialism, Michel Houellebecq explores with characteristic provocativeness, but also with surprising tenderness the emotions that seem most resilient to any influence: love and hate. Platform is, as Anita Brookner has written, "a brilliant novel, casting a prescient eye on the abuses and inequalities that lead to wider trouble."
"[A] pale imitation of [Houellebecq] at his scandalous and probing best....Posturing, silly, sophomoric though the glib Houellebecq is good at trying to make you think otherwise." Kirkus Reviews
Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles ("a brilliant novel of ideas" The Wall Street Journal) was awarded the IMPAC Prize in 2002. His new novel is the story of Michel Renault, a bureaucrat who prefers his pleasures prepackaged, until he pursues the awkward and attractive Valerie.
In his new work, Michel Houellebecq combines erotic provocation with a terrifying vision of a world teetering between satiety and fanaticism, to create one of the most shocking, hypnotic, and intelligent novels in years.
In his early forties, Michel Renault skims through his days with as little human contact as possible. But following his fathers death he takes a group holiday to Thailand where he meets a travel agent—the shyly compelling Valérie—who begins to bring this half-dead man to life with sex of escalating intensity and audacity. Arcing with dreamlike swiftness from Paris to Pattaya Beach and from sex clubs to a terrorist massacre, Platform is a brilliant, apocalyptic masterpiece by a man who is widely regarded as one of the worlds most original and daring writers.
About the Author
Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles, an international best-seller, won the prestigious Prix Novembre in France as well as the lucrative International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He lives in Ireland.
Reading Group Guide
“A terrific writer, funny and prophetic . . . feverishly alive to the world around him.” —The New York Times Book Review
The introduction, discussion questions, suggested reading list, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your groups discussion of Michel Houellebecqs controversial and powerful new novel, Platform.