Anita Brookner

French prize novels

Although it was set up as a contest between a flagrant outsider and a more traditional intimist there was little doubt that Michel Houellebecq would lose out in the Goncourt stakes. His sulphurous vision and unapologetic rule-breaking were too much for the reading public, not to mention the Goncourt judges, who took little pleasure in his grand design in what amounts to a memento mori for our present civilisation and his unanswered plea for a future that would promise some relief from our various discontents.

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