The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

62%

16 Critic Reviews

Houellebecq is disgusted with liberal society, but his self-importance and humorlessness overwhelm his characters and finally will tax readers' patience.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporary existence.

Bruno and Michel are half-brothers abandoned by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous hedonist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale.

Translated from the French by Frank Wynne.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Michel Houellebecq

See more books from this Author
Michel Houellebecq lives in Ireland.
 
Published February 6, 2001 by Vintage. 272 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Elementary Particles
All: 16 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on May 20 2010

Much of the time clumsy, but fiercely interesting.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Anthony Quinn on Nov 19 2000

One can only assume that France's literary scene must have been suffering a profound torpor if it responded with such outrage to this bilious, hysterical and oddly juvenile book.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Nov 10 2000

Mr. Houellebecq, who conflates his characters' points of view with his own authorial voice, lays out in these pages an utterly bleak picture of contemporary culture.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Clark on May 12 2010

Finishing this book, one is genuinely excited by its author's daring and conviction, even when that conviction reads like an elaborate practical joke.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Feb 23 2008

This is a bold and unsettling portrait of a society falling apart.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Oct 30 2010

Houellebecq is disgusted with liberal society, but his self-importance and humorlessness overwhelm his characters and finally will tax readers' patience.

Read Full Review of The Elementary Particles | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Tony Dalmyn on Oct 02 2008

The Elementary Particles is a brilliant riff on Huxley's humanism.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Troy Patterson on Jan 05 2008

In France, tout le monde thinks this is an ''important'' novel, so it goes without saying that it's deeply bleak and highly chic.

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Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Merle Rubin on Dec 01 2008

A great work of literature? Not likely. A book that people should read? Yes.

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PopMatters

Below average
Reviewed by Martha Kuhlman on Dec 01 2010

From the first page, this novel screams “I am the Zeitgeist! I am the Zeitgeist!” A little too insistently, probably.

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Salon

Above average
Reviewed by Lorin Stein on Oct 23 2010

“The Elementary Particles” is grotesque and fantastical, full of loony physics, half-baked history and sociobiology.

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Her Circle Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Marina Del Vecchio on Mar 28 2012

The narrator, an improved version of humanity, uses the voice and life of its feminine creator, Michel, as the vehicle through which it relates the pessimistic dangers of the old world from which it has transcended.

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Good Reports

Good
Reviewed by Good Reports on Dec 01 2010

The Elementary Particles forces us to consider what the value of being human is.

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Village Voice

Good
Reviewed by J. Hoberman on Nov 07 2008

Houellebecq's posthuman comedy is smart as well as smartass, but his satire is even sadder than it is Sadean.

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Providence Phoenix

Above average
Reviewed by Adam Kirsch on Nov 16 2010

Like Swift, like Celine, Michel Houellebecq holds up to society a distorted mirror, in which we can see something like the truth.

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Review of Contemporary Fiction

Good
Reviewed by James Sallis on Dec 01 2008

It must also be remarked that the novel is compulsively readable—readable almost in spite of itself.

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Reader Rating for The Elementary Particles
69%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 154 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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