Farewell to Houellebecq, Scorpions, Elton John, Gerhard Richter: Bye – culture

Elton John, 50 Cent, Quentin Tarantino: artists like to announce that they are retiring. Which doesn’t always mean they do. New: Michael Houellebecq. Is this a trend or a trick?

French writer Michel Houellebecq, whom some consider a literary prophet and others a dangerous provocateur, just has one published new novel. “Annihilate” is the title, which has been kept secret by the publishing houses for as long as they can, which is just as powerful a marketing tool as what Houellebecq then writes in the acknowledgment. In the very last sentence on the very last page, he announces his retirement: “Fortunately, I’ve just come to a positive realization; it’s time for me to stop.” The French newspapers were immediately surprised, as were the fans’ concerns about losing their national prophet. Houellebecq’s detonated bomb actually looks more like a lame table firework display. “Time to stop” can also mean a long farewell path, possibly paved with several novels.

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