Booker International Longlist 2020: Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq
Book 6 from the longlist and I think it is fair to say this is the book our shadow panel was most dreading. That said all 4 panellists have read and reviewed this book so how did it fare in our rankings?
Details from the Booker Website: Dissatisfied and discontented, Florent-Claude Labrouste feels he is dying of sadness. His young girlfriend hates him and his career as an engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture is pretty much over. His only relief comes in the form of a pill – white, oval, small. Recently released for public consumption, Captorix is a new brand of anti-depressant which works by altering the brain’s release of serotonin.
Armed with this new drug, Labrouste decides to abandon his life in Paris and return to the Normandy countryside where he used to work promoting regional cheeses, and where he had once been in love. But instead of happiness, he finds a rural community devastated by globalisation and European agricultural policies, and local farmers longing, like Labrouste himself, for an impossible return to what they remember as the golden age.
Michel Houellebecq is a poet, essayist and novelist. He is the author of several novels including The Map and the Territory (winner of the Prix Goncourt), Atomised, Platform, Whatever and Submission. He was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in 2019.
Shaun Whiteside’s translations from French, German, Italian and Dutch include works by Georges Simenon, Amélie Nothomb, Patrick Rambaud, Ralf Rothmann, Walter Kempowski, Judith Schalansky, Luther Blissett/Wu Ming and Marcel Möring, as well as classic authors including Freud, Nietzsche, Robert Musil and Adolf Loos. His reviews have appeared in a range of journals including the Guardian, the TLS, the Literary Review and the Irish Times. He lives in London with his wife and son.
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
The Eighth Life 18.5
Memory Police 15.5
Faces on the Tip of my Tongue 14.17
Mac and his Problem 12.5
Have you read this one? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.