Michel is raised by his paternal grandmother and becomes an introverted molecular biologist, who is ultimately responsible for the discoveries which lead to the elimination of sexual reproduction.Bruno's upbringing is much more tragic as described: shuffled and forgotten from one abusive boarding school to another, he eventually finds himself in a loveless marriage and teaching at a high school.Bruno grows into a lecherous and insatiable sex addict whose dalliances with prostitutes and sex chat on Minitel do nothing to satisfy him, to the point where he finds himself on disability leave from his job and in a mental hospital after a failed attempt at seducing one of his students.
A similar device was used by Kurt Vonnegut in the novel Galápagos; however, unlike Vonnegut, Houellebecq only reveals the frame to the reader in the epilogue.
Large sections of the story are presented in the form of suppertime storytelling dialogues between Michel, his childhood sweetheart Annabelle, Bruno, and Bruno's post-divorce girlfriend Christiane.
The story focuses on the lives of Bruno Clément and Michel Djerzinski, two French half-brothers born of a hippie-type mother.
), is a novel by the French author Michel Houellebecq, published in France in 1998.
It tells the story of two half-brothers, Michel and Bruno, and their mental struggles against their situations in modern society.
It was translated into English by Frank Wynne as Atomised in the UK and as The Elementary Particles in the US.
It won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for writer and translator.
Despite the essentially elaborate scope of the plot revealed in the novel's conclusion (i.e.
the eventual emergence of cloning as a replacement for the sexual reproduction of the human race), the narrative focuses almost exclusively on the bleak and unrewarding day-to-day lives of the protagonists, two half-brothers who barely know each other.