Another highly regarded (and prizewinning) French novel, this 1995 confection delineates the ennui-laden adventures of its unnamed narrator, a disaffected computer expert sent with a colleague from Paris to the provinces, to instruct civil servants in the use of new technology. He has lost interest in sex, has a heart problem (!), spends his free time composing limp anthropomorphic fantasies, and shrugs off passivity—only to encourage his suggestible companion Bernard to murder one of the many women who have rejected him. That spark of malicious energy aside, he’s a nondescript bore. So is Houellebecq’s (really tedious) first novel.