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Michel Houellebecq is a French author whose profile in the English-speaking world is unusually high. He is an author who has put the humour back into the Absurd, without losing any of the awareness of the bleakness of the human condition. Undoubtedly one of the most trenchant satirists of our time, he deflates the projected utopias that we imagine protect us from the ills that beset us. More than many other novelists, his work is a reflection of the social and economic reality of life in a post-industrial society. Houellebecq shows a world of violence and tension, a world where people find it hard to be at ease, so that life becomes a process of disease. This book foregrounds Houellebecq's scrutiny of our various attempts to confront and transcend the fundamental reality of the human condition, in particular the horror of death.