Michel Houellebecq, literary rock star

Andrew Hussey in The Guardian:

Michel_houellebecq_kikaIt is just before nine on a Friday morning in Edinburgh and a thin, faint rain is falling outside the Scottish Poetry Library in Crichton’s Close, a short step from the tourist tat of the Royal Mile. This is where I meet French novelist and poet Michel Houellebecq, who is squatting on the building’s concrete steps, hunched up in a large black anorak against the drizzle, sucking hard on the first of a long line of cigarettes.

With his pinched face and shambling gait, he is, to say the least, an incongruous figure; he looks more like a local wino than a world-famous man of letters. But Houellebecq, 47, is the nearest thing to a literary superstar France has produced in recent years. His books have been translated into 36 languages and recent film deals have made him a multi-millionaire. He is in Edinburgh to attend a conference which is being held in his honour by the University of St Andrews to coincide with the publication of his new novel, and which has attracted distinguished scholars and critics from all over the Western world.

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