Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £25.99

Buy Now for £25.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Summary

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020

Penguin presents the audio edition of Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq. 

The most important French book of the year. 

Dissatisfied and discontent, Florent-Claude Labrouste begrudgingly works as an engineer for the Ministry of Agriculture and is in a self-imposed dysfunctional relationship with a younger woman. When he discovers her ongoing infidelity, he decides to abandon his life in Paris and return to the Normandy countryside of his youth. There he contemplates lost loves and past happiness as he struggles to embed himself in a world that no longer holds any joy for him. 

His only relief comes in the form of a pill - white, oval, small. Captorix is a new brand of antidepressant, recently released for public consumption, which works by altering the brain’s release of serotonin. With social unrest intensifying around him, and his own depression deepening, Florent-Claude turns to this new medication in the hope that he will find something to live for. 

Written by one of the most provocative and prophetic novelists of his generation, Serotonin is at once a devastating story of solitude, longing and individual suffering and a powerful criticism of modern life.

©2019 Michel Houellebecq (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"One cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading Houellebecq's work." (Karl Ove Knausgaard, New York Times)

What listeners say about Serotonin

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    66
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    91
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    51
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    7

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

We need more of Houellebecq

This is a great modern novel. We need to have more of this author available in audible. The sooner the better.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Great novel. Superb narration. First class work from the author and narrator. A very erudite tome.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

No more Houellebecq for me!

A truly awful piece about an arrogant middle aged bloke who is obcessed with his dick. Crude and clumsy, the narrative tries to shock using beastiality to degrade one female character, then describes another conquest as fat and alcoholic but still up for sex. There isn't much storyline and what there was of one, was constantly interrupted with the narrator's recollections of sex. The whole thing was boring and pointless and I didn't listen to more than a couple of hours if it. Glad I didn't pay for it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Delightfully dark.

One of the darkest things I've read and also one of the funniest books I've read. There's a part where he suggests that Skype is even more intolerable than.... well, it's dark.

Fantastic.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Self-consciously formulaic and predictably dark

Houellebecq has produced another novel that attacks bourgeois sensibilities in a self consciously formulaic manner that will automatically have it identified by some as a masterpiece of contemporary literature. The detachment from his dysfunctional protagonist in an equally dysfunctional society results in a work that ticks all the right boxes. It's so easy to create in this way through presenting the reader with images of darkness and negativity as reality. The issue as I see it is that Houellebecq becomes part of the societal problem that he is supposedly providing a critique of. In fact, he could be a novelist in his own imaginary, dystopian world. Read if you wish, consume and then forget. This clever, well-crafted masterly book isn't worth the effort: it's quite easy to be drawn in by its post-modernist critique of a society in decay as painted by Houellebecq but in reality that society does not exist. The book is a lie, pornography masquerading as art. Love still thrives but not in the mind of Houellebecq.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

New day Same Houellebecq

It is not that his work is bad. But I felt I have read this book before. Little has changed in the way Houellebecq writes, what he writes about and how he writes about it

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Dark, truthful and humorous

This is the story of a depressed, middle-aged, rich Parisian man and his struggle to manage his mental health and lost love life.

There are two ways you can look at this: he is an arrogant, selfish bore, obsessed with sex (he talks about wet pussy far too frequently for a man of his years), or it is a common tale about the physical and mental decline of a man whose life is entirely unfulfilled. Both these perspectives of the book are true.

Florent-Claude Labrouste, is a government agricultural specialist who escapes his cold, high maintenance, young Japanese girlfriend and hides in various hotels that will permit smoking (he discovered pornograhpic videos of her at swingers events).

He is prescribed anti depressants by his doctor to counter his low levels of serotonin which further reduce his libido, which wasn't great to begin with.

Eventually he moves to Normandy to meet up with an old friend Aymeric, a farmer/landowner, and to pursue the memories of lost loves to see where things began to wrong in his love life.
Aymeric is a broken man too. His wife and children have left him, his business is floundering and all he has left are vodka and guns.

The farmers are campaigning against government, EU and global policies which are crippling their industry and lives. Aymeric is central to the campaign which includes road blockades and armed confrontations with police. At the height of a protest Aymeric demonstrably shoots himself during a tense stand-off. This sparks the deaths of a further ten people. There are 600 suicides a year in the French agricultural industry.

Labrouste, through his job, contributed to the situation with the farmers so there is further guilt added to his depression.

Labrouste finds, and begins to stalk, an ex-love, Camille. He still has feelings for her and she is now a single mother with a small child. Labrouste watches her from a distance and hatches a monsterous plan to shoot the child so he and Camille can be together again. Fortunately, he can't go through with it and returns to see his doctor.

This time the doctor advises him to visit prostitutes and even passes him the contact details of three such ladies. I do hope this kind of thing happens in real life in France, it is social prescribing French style -vive le système de santé Français.

However. Labrouste is too lethargic to pursue even this course of treatment. Instead he moves back to Paris to contemplate suicide before his money runs out.

Although I've made this book sound desperately miserable, it's not. It's dark but it is also hilarious with smatterings of humour, it is smartly written and Houellebecq is a sharp observer

I feel that he doesn't want the reader's to like the characters but to show a number of truths. The lost loves are all Labrouste's fault and I wanted to shake him at times because of his impotent lethargy, he's not yet fifty!

The destruction of the French agricultural industry may be a mataphor for the decline of French pride and tradition and the decline of Labrouste may be a metaphor for the loss in direction and potency of middle-aged men. Labrouste is castrated by anti depressants.
No one cares about the dairy farmers and no one cares about middle-aged men.

The book will be hated by feminists because its about a self-absorbed man, because its politically incorrect and because of the two dimensional female characters but Houellebecq is provocative and probably just doesn't care.

There is no happy ending here and no lessons, it's outcome is uncompromisingly bleak. Please read this book.

John Sackville's reading is faultless and brings the story to life.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

entirely morose

If you wish to enter a depressive state yourself, this is the book for you, the narration was perfectly delivered.

a warning should be in included of an explicit chapter concerning paedophilia. not as easy to skip through on audible as it would be on paper. why was it included ? gratuitous and indulgent of the author.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Another great story by Michel.

It's s great writing. I recommend listening to this audiobook. I even think about getting a paperback and reading it again.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

racist.

Apparently Asians cant blush although our "psychological mechanism exists but the result tends towards the shade of ochre" - ch.6

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kenneth Malone
  • Kenneth Malone
  • 22-11-19

Buy a pack of Lucky Strike no filters and enjoy.

Delightfully dark. Really enjoyed it even if I may not have fully understood it... Great narrator. Great approximations of a mans stream of conciousness ruminations

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dr.
  • Dr.
  • 16-07-20

meh trying too much to be Houellebecq!

disappointment when compared to ( atom or primary element ls). he didn't gross me, annoy me, even entertain me enough

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kristian
  • Kristian
  • 27-09-19

Michel Houellebecq is back !

Serotonin is a nihilistic masterpiece, that will provoke and offend a lot of people - particularly Houellebecq´s opponents from the far left, the feminist movement, the political correct and the entire offensive industry.It's dark, sarkastic, rough, perverted and totally hilarious.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Charles in Holland
  • Charles in Holland
  • 11-08-21

Atrocious performance.

Why did they pick a reader who can't pronounce simple things like "Vosges"? He pronounces it "vos-g-ehs" instead of "voh - zh"
He also doesn't seem to understand the book at all or Houllebecq's humour. Why oh why did they pick this parochial incompetent?

I disliked the performance so much I just couldn't stand to listen any more.

As for the book itself. It isn't Houllebecq's best and that's putting it mildly. Perhaps it would have been better if the main character just jumped out of a window in the 3rd chapter.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for igor mintz
  • igor mintz
  • 11-02-21

Weird and extreme

Thoughts about suicide, extreme sexuality (from the weirdest porn categories) some kiliing and a heavy depression in the background. Sometimes feels like he's trying be outrageous with half baked philosophy.