Michel Houellebecq

The great French smoker Michel Houellebecq has gained an international audience writing misanthropic (and yet somehow emotionally complicated) novels about sex tourism, asexuality, terrorism, anhedonia, and the grimmer sides of the contemporary human condition. The books are good, but he's just as well known for his bad-boy persona—drinking, smoking, and flirting with women reporters. One might wonder what his next novel's shocking subject will be, but the answer is obvious: He'll write about himself.

J. C. Hallman, the author of In Utopia, sums up why people write dystopian novels: "Look at all the things we’re having trouble handling, whether it’s oil spills or health care. People are dissatisfied, but we can’t project a solution."

Want a book that isn't on the shelves? Soon, stores such as New York's McNally Jackson will have equipment that will print books while you wait. For a detailed discussion of the power of Print on Demand, see this interview with novelist Matthew Stadler, who makes books with, among other things, a machine he calls "Ol' Gluey."

The sage school officials of Jacksonville, Florida have banned Nigerian author Chris Abani's book Graceland from 10th grade reading lists (though it carries the "Today Show Pick's" rainbow imprimatur), because apparently reading about its young hero—a boy who loves Elvis and dreams of escaping a Lago ghetto—will warp impressionable young minds.

The blog PWxyz's list of the most underrated authors—a response to the Huffington Post's recent list of overrated authors—continues to grow. Now can someone come up with a list of authors who are rated exactly as they should be?