The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
June 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Michel Houellebecq is a French writer, film maker and poet. His work is sometimes seen as controversial. This book is not. However, it is not an easy read, there is a bit of philosophy that makes for dense reading, and also some graphical sex scenes.The book was made into a movie in 2008.
The book alternates between two narrators: Daniel1 and Daniel25. Daniel1 doesn’t actually know he’s number 1, he’s just Daniel. He lives in a time not far in the future. He’s a comedian by profession and has also made several movies that are insulting for different groups of the (world) population. Still, he’s hugely popular and has enough money to live a great life.
At some point he becomes bored with his role as comedian and cineast and starts to withdraw from social life to some extend. He is invited by a religious group to take part in a workshop, which gradually leads to him becoming a trusted friend of the leaders of this group, the Elohim. They believe that the humans were brought to earth by aliens and they want to build a temple for when these aliens come back to earth.
They also believe they can make people immortal by recreating their body and soul when they die. This is where Daniel25 comes in, he’s the 24th descendant of Daniel1. While Daniel1′s story relates his life as above, Daniel25 merely reads Daniel1′s life story and comments on it.
Daniel25′s society is quite different from ours. People that are not neohumans like him, living in protected enclaves, are savages living half-naked out in the wild. Daniel25 hardly ever meets anyone else, and besides reading Daniel1′s story, I’m not sure what he does.
Since I like Dystopia stories, this was all quite interesting. However, some parts of the book were really hard to follow, mainly because they consisted of philosophical rants which I found difficult as well as less interesting. The ideas in the book are very interesting as such and I really like the end, when we finally learn a bit more about the world that Daniel25 inhabits.
Read it if you’re heavily into dystopia or like a good story about immortality, humanity, and love.
And here’s a damning review (mine isn’t, not really) from Bookphilia.