Book review: Submission

FRANCOIS is a typically Houellebecqian protagonist: middle-aged, misogynistic, spiritually bereft and disgusted by his parents, and Submission is a typically Houellebecqian novel.

Michel Houllebecq

William Heinemann, €17.99

It is France, 2022, and the Muslim Brotherhood has just swept to power, riding the people’s dissatisfaction with mainstream politics.

A professor at the Sorbonne, Francois is well aware that his academic career is in decline, and he takes little interest in his university beyond which student he might sleep with next.

The arrival of Islam, with the promise of polygamy and of giving substance to his existence, sets his life on a new course.

Houellebecq’s target, as usual, is the mindless consumerism and vapid intellectualism of modern France, and while the premise of the book is new, the satire feels tired and overworked.

It is a work that is certain to provoke, but ultimately it does not have much to say that he has not said, much better, before.


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