Platform by Michel Houellebecq

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Synopsis

Michel Renault is a human void. Following the death of the father he barely knew, he endures his civil ser-
vice 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.”
 

About Michel Houellebecq

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Michel Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles, an international bestseller, won the prestigious Prix Novembre in France as well as the lucrative International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He lives in Ireland.
 
Published July 15, 2003 by Knopf. 272 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Platform

Kirkus Reviews

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Valérie goes along as a partner, but it’s narrator- lover Michel who comes up with the truly brilliant idea about how to pull the resorts out of their slump (“Offer [clubs] where the people get to fuck”), as a consequence of which there’s comes to be born a whole new corporate investment in “sex ...

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The Guardian

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Platform by Michel Houellebecq Heinemann £12.99, pp362 Most contemporary novels are distinctly forgettable.

Aug 11 2002 | Read Full Review of Platform

The Guardian

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Platform by Michel Houellebecq Heinemann, 320pp, £12.99 Michel Houellebecq is the first French novelist since Albert Camus to find a wide readership outside France.

Sep 07 2002 | Read Full Review of Platform

Publishers Weekly

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She and Michel persuade her boss, Jean-Yves Frochot, to invest in sex tourism resorts, but the plan goes terribly awry because of a terrorist attack by puritanical Islamic fanatics on a resort in Thailand.

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Entertainment Weekly

Sex, tourism, and sex tourism are on the bill in this dirty novel of ideas.

Jul 18 2003 | Read Full Review of Platform

London Review of Books

At one point, when Michel and Valérie are talking to Valérie’s business partner, the young, wealthy, attractive and emotionally wrecked Jean-Yves, Michel reflects: ‘He knew that we would go home later and fuck, and we could fuck with love.’ Recounting his pathetic early sex life, Michel explains ...

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Austin Chronicle

Angling for a fatwa seems that most nervy of literary endeavors these days, but in this department author Michel Houellebecq has put Salman Rushdie to shame with the publication of his third novel, a work that so excoriates Islam (while simultaneously strutting and crowing about Thai sex tourism ...

Sep 12 2003 | Read Full Review of Platform

Variety

It starts with the kind of sexually explicit image rarely seen on a stage, yet there were no walkouts on opening night of this, the final play in the 2006 Edinburgh Intl.

Aug 31 2006 | Read Full Review of Platform

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