Controversial French author Michel Houellebecq is expected to visit Israel at the end of this month for the launch of the Hebrew translation of his book "La carte et le territoire" (The map and the territory" ). Houellebecq won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize, for the book in 2010. It will be published in Israel by Babel in a translation by Rama Ayalon.
Houellebecq will be coming to Israel with Teresa Cremisi, CEO of the Flammarion publishing house. During the visit he will meet with President Shimon Peres and take part in the launch event for the book at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
Houellebecq, 53, is considered one of the most popular and controversial writers in France. Previous books of his have been published in Hebrew; of them, "The Elementary Particles" and "The Possibility of an Island" have been very successful.
Houellebecq is known for his provocative statements and has never missed an opportunity in the past to kick political correctness where the sun doesn't shine, but now that he is coming to Israel, he has in fact chosen a positive message and says he "wishes the State of Israel a long life from the bottom of my heart."
This, coming from the wrathful prophet who writes mercilessly, brutally and daringly about contemporary culture and always manages to anger large publics. He has been called a pervert, a misogynist, a racist and a reactionary. In 2001 Houellebecq said Islam is "a stupid and dangerous religion." In reaction to that he was sued by Islamic organizations and won his case.
At one point the writer said he feels total revulsion for all the monotheistic religions. "The idea of faith in one God was the idea of a wicked person," he said. "I have no other word to describe him. The stupidest religion of all is Islam. The Bible is at least beautiful because the Jews have tremendous literary talent, but when you read the Koran you get depressed." At the time the director of the Paris Mosque responded: "Only medicine has solutions in the matter of Houellebecq."
The chief rabbi of Paris also condemned him and said, "His arrogance is tragic."
In any case, despite or perhaps because of the shock Houellebecq causes, his books are sold in millions of copies. They have been translated into dozens of languages and he is considered the most successful French writer outside France. Ayalon says that in her opinion "'La carte et le territoire' is the most significant and reconciled book he has written so far. In it, it is possible again to identify what Houellebecq sees as a personal condition for writing - to probe the connection between solitariness and writing."
In the book, Houellebecq examines the areas beyond the bitter fight, the desperate economy and the one-way politics of the war between the sexes that characterized his previous books. He writes about fathers and sons, friendship, work and creativity, and the passion to describe faithfully the world as it is. In the press it has been said of him that this is a "total, great, powerful and delicate novel, written the way a tomb is sculpted."