Willy Chandra - whom we first met in Half a Life - is a man who has allowed one identity after another to be thrust upon him. Now, in his early 40s, after a peripatetic life, he succumbs to the demanding encouragement of his sister - and his own listlessness - and joins an underground movement in India ostensibly devoted to unfettering the lower castes. But seven years of revolutionary campaigns and several years in jail convince him that the revolution “had nothing to do with the village people we said we were fighting for,” and he feels himself further than ever “from his own history and...from the ideas of himself that might have come to him with that history.” When he returns to England where, 30 years
before, his psychological and physical wanderings began, he finds the fruit of another unexpected social revolution (more magic seeds), and he comes to see himself as a man “serving an endless prison sentence” - a revelation that may finally release him into his true self. Magic Seeds is a masterpiece, written with all the depth and resonance, the clarity of vision and precision of language that are the hallmarks of this brilliant writer.
The cult status of Crash has intensified since its original publication in 1973, making it a classic of underground literature. In this hallucinatory novel, the car provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a ‘TV scientist’, experiments with erotic atrocities among crash victims, each more sinister than the last: ultimately, he craves a union of blood, semen and engine coolant in a head-on collision with Elizabeth Taylor.
In the follow-up to his hugely successful and Impac award-winning Atomised, Michel Houellebecq explores the hedonism of Lanzarote, the archetypal holiday island, in a book that is as blisteringly funny and acid as his novel.