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3.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,457 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Realising that his New Year is probably going to be a disaster, as usual, our narrator, on impulse, walks into a travel agency to book a week in the sun. Sensitive to his limited means and dislike of Muslim countries, the travel agent suggests an island full of 21st century hedonism, set in a bizarre lunar landscape - Lanzarote.

On Lanzarote, one can meet some fascinating h
Paperback, 87 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Vintage (first published October 24th 2000)
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Average rating 3.25  · 
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 ·  3,457 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read, france
What is appropriate reading material during a global pandemic? Michel Houellebecq, of course! In his gloomy novella "Lanzarote", he demonstrates that the joys of tourism are overrated anyway, so why not pick up this text while you can't leave your house anway. His unnamed, 40-ish protagonist travels to the title-giving island to spend his holidays there, he partakes in some stale touristy actvities (capitalism! fake fun!), hangs out with a depressed policeman from Brussels who has been dumped by ...more
L.S. Popovich
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quick remarks about this little book.
Fascinating but brief and inconclusive. Could’ve used more development. Typical of Houellebecq's up front political, religious, and gender role commentary. An exploration of man’s intrinsic nature. Offhand, off-color jokes, it comes off as a bizarre form of tourist literature. At the same time a morphological notebook discussing human existence within a vivid, panoramic environment. The casual cretinism is semi-humorous. Pointing out the absurdities associate
Patrick McCoy
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Lanzarote is a short (only 87 pages) novella by Michel Houllebeq, which incidentally is a small volcanic Spanish island off the coast of Africa. I was really impressed by his previous novel, Platform, so I picked this up along with another by him, Atomised UK (The Elementary Particles US). This novella has several of the elements from Platform, a vacation setting, sex, humor, and a rant against Muslims. His prose is very easy to digest and as I mentioned often quite funny (here he is discussing ...more
Jul 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
I have no idea how this even made it into print. This book was so boring it was a real struggle to get to the end. It's a short novel about an idiot who goes to a hotel and sleeps with a few people. Dull, tasteless and deeply unfunny. ...more
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is my actual favorite Houellebecq book, and I think most people missed it - because I think it came out only in the UK (in English of course). Nevertheless this is a very short book which i think is my favorite of his because of the length is perfect for the hatred expressed in Houellebecq's view of the world. He's funny, biting, and I like his take on tourism. ...more
Steven Godin
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: france, fiction
Wish I could push the central character into a volcano.
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Jan 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, french-lit
Very characteristic of Houellebecq... ramblings of the wrongs in the world, anti-Islam, sex, and middle-aged men... entertaining for sure, but more of the same. This one focused in the end on a cult engaged in pedophilia and incest, granted I didn't see it coming, but it didn't really add anything when the earlier story of the protagonist who might help a lesbian couple conceive seemed the focus (and frankly more interesting part). The story tries to come across as a slice of life, but the techn ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009
Utterly bizarre. Totally compelling.
May 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dirtybooks, eurolit
Maybe this was a bad place to start with Houellebecq, or maybe this pamphlet-sized novella is a perfect distillation of the man's whole schtick. Dunno, but Lanzarote is about a bored, louche reactionary with some PROVOCATIVE opinions who goes on holiday to Lanzarote where the island's barren landscape is a handy metaphor for the spiritually barren human condition. Anyway, I'm here for the nihilistic hedonism and general perviness - except it turns out to be all sub-Clarkson sneering and joyless, ...more
Lee Klein
Apr 18, 2008 rated it liked it
This is more a short story formatted to seem like a novella, with a few full-color photos of volcanic rock formations. It's a travelogue that morphs into semi-hot threesome scenes that then transforms into what seem like non-fictional notes for the religious sect from "The Possibility of an Island". Reads entirely unlike fiction, but a google search for "Azraelian" made me feel like a duped fool. Worth an hour of reading if you've read "The Possibility of an Island". ...more
Carolyn Cahalane
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
As usual, disturbing but great
Trent England
Feb 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Carme Alegre
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
We get it, Michel, your books are edgy and ~shocking~
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
The first half of the book (it's really a short novella or long short story) is a real bore. It's not until Rudi's letter and the subsequent news of the Azraelites that the book's point seems to take form.

It's a story about a guy that wants to escape from his life. He takes a trip to a remote Canary Island. His vacation is populated by hedonistic lesbians and a really downer Belgian cop. Stories of a cult, sexual escapades and unfulfilled characters abound. Think a French Bret Easton Ellis meet
Marija Andreeva
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once he gets over his sometimes vulgar obsession with sex and his desire to shock, he can make excellent points about life, people, relationships, writing. I did not care about the Lanzarote story and I thought this will be another story where he gets to describe sex scenes in details, but the other texts and essays (the edition I read had other essays/texts besides Lanzarote) were magnificent. And this is what puzzles me. He has such great insight into the human condition, and he often spoils t ...more
Katie Fellows
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Had to question my own sanity after reading this.
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Typical profound and enveloping Houellebecq… as he turns a week's holiday in Lanzarote into an analysis of the evolving modern Western Europe, sexuality, homosexual parenting wishes, sects, paedophilia, urban decay, the trials of modern religion and the Western European aboard! 7 out of 12.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

At 80 odd small pages long, this would be lucky to qualify as a novella. In some ways this reads like a heavily watered down version of the excellent “Atomised”. This gets off to such a strong and promising start, fizzing with Houellebecq’s dark excellence, but then something bizarre happens around the second half?...It’s almost like the author had died and so they had to get someone in at the last minute to finish off the rest of it. It just descends into a lazy, half- hearted ending, as holes
Christian Leonard Quale
I went into Lanzarote completely blind, knowing only that it’s the subject of the latest Ingvar Ambjørnsen-book about Elling. I heard a strong recommendation about reading this book before reading the Elling-book, as the Elling-book is apparently all about Elling reading and commenting upon Lanzarote.

I didn’t really enjoy this book, but it was too short for me to dislike it. It’s essentially some philosophical musings combined with some immaturely conveyed sexual themes, and exaggerated satire.

May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, fiction
Reading Houellebecq is always a guilty pleasure. Large parts of his books seem to involve him just writing down his old-man fantasies, which are often disgusting and hilarious. His male narrators seem to have sex with every female they encounter. Houellebecq appears to me to be a Gollum-like figure, and it's amusing to think of him writing these kind of books. But during all that, there are deeper ruminations on the human condition in Western societies which is what makes his books interesting. ...more
Nikola Jankovic
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read it in collection with his other essays, but it was still a short read. The story itself is OK at the beginning, I like characters with cynical world perspective. But, in its 60 pages, it could not decide what it is. Is it take on modern tourism? Story about wild and free sex? Or does it take on extreme new-religion groups?

One of the essays to follow (the one where author criticizes modern American society) is bit better, but too short to make whole book worth reading.

Sep 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I didn't like it. I wanted to, as I feel it had the potential to be a good story, but the narrator is little more than a narrow minded chauvenist who thinks of women as sex dolls. He may as well have whipped out his cock and cried, "I have a penis, who wants some?" I'm all for well written sauce, but the encounters in this are repetitive 'vag in face' - literally. Why? This could have been so much more than it was. ...more
Joe Downie
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Quick, fun read, very short, and the same old Houellebecq narrator's voice (male, late 40s/early 50s, sex fiend), with a slight twist at the end. Best part was the description and pictures of Lanzarote itself, along with the account of the violent volcanic eruptions; fairly obvious what's going on there... ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a very short book - barely even novella length. It has themes in common with other Houellebecq books that I've read (as well as the expected pornographic interludes and Islamophobic characters) but, really, the story is so brief that they aren't - can't be - explored with any real profundity. Frustrating. ...more
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This is not my favorite book by Houellebecq, but it was entertaining. Cynical, disturbing and engaging, thats exactly how I love Houellebecq. The writer can get his point clear in less than 100 pages, that is brilliant.
Kitty Red-Eye
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dark, hilarious, excellent. Borrowed it because It's so short, only 70 pages, and I wanted to just get an impression of the author's pen before perhaps reading something more demanding by him. Excellent pen. Gonna read more of this. ...more
Rob Tapper
Excellent short read. Puts the full color of life ( and even some exotic erotica) in a nutshell, with abundant humor with pithy accurate commentary on real (a)moral issues.
Caterina Pierre
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a short novella (from 2000, 87 pages in the edition I had) by Houellebecq written before The Possibility of an Island (2005), but which is very much linked to the later book. The unnamed narrator, who is, as always, tempting to equate with Houellebecq himself, is as usual a brooding, probably middle-aged man who is pretty much fed up with the state of the world and, on a whim, decides to take a package vacation to the Canary Islands, in particular to Lanzarote. He doesn’t have high hopes ...more
Knut Seip
Aug 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Text and pictures fitting together.
With this text follows eight color pictures. To me, the pictures reflect the text. Text and pictures are equally interesting, equally challenging, and equally funny: “Did you have a good day? I said causally” p.31. There are two exceptions. Two of the chapters appears as educational pieces for gender togetherness written by a youth psychologist. “I put my arm around Pam and planted little kisses on her neck…” p. 58-9.

The newspaper The last part is a journalis
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first encounter with Houellebecq and I enjoyed it. I was surprised at the slightly elevated tone of the narration as I had imagined Houellebecq to be a bit of a monster, somewhat like Bukowski, but his voice is more intellectual than I had imagined and his self-insert MC is almost timid at times. I remember being surprised at how squeamish he was, for instance, when a woman found his cigarette smoking to be disgusting and he quickly extinguished it and scurried away.

This was a very enjoyable
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Michel Houellebecq (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956 on the French island of Réunion, is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler, who writes vulgar sleazy literature to shock. His works though, pa ...more

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