Christophe Guilluy’s France Périphérique and the absence of race from Michel Houellebecq’s Sérotonine

Fraser McQueen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Sérotonine (2019) is Michel Houellebecq’s most overtly politically engaged novel to date: the novel’s content and the framing strategies that Houellebecq employed at the time of its publication converge to encourage readers to interpret the views expressed therein as Houellebecq’s own. This holds particularly true in relation to the apparently genuine concern that Sérotonine exudes for the regions of France that geographer Christophe Guilluy labels ‘la France périphérique’. Reading Houellebecq’s novel alongside the work of Guilluy, for whom Houellebecq has expressed respect, also helps to explain the surprising absence of protagonists who express racist views against French citizens of postcolonial immigrant descent, or depictions of race-related conflict, from Sérotonine. That absence does not imply a corresponding absence of racism. Rather, excluding non-white French populations from his narrative allows Houellebecq to echo Guilluy by implicitly excluding them from both the marginalized communities for which his novel expresses such concern and, more broadly, the category of ‘French’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-417
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

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