A work of real literary distinction[Houellebecq] has been the novelist who has most fearlessly and presciently tackled the rise of Islamic extremism in recent yearsHe is a writer with a gift for telling the truth, unlike any other in our time Ive been consistently saying he is the writer who matters most to me for many years now. Ive read Submission twice in the last week with ever growing admiration and enjoyment. Theres been no English-language novel this good lately. With Submission Houellebecq has inserted himself right into the centre of the intellectual debate that was already raging in France about Islam and identity politicsThere is nobody else writing now more worth reading. -- David Sexton * Evening Standard * One cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading his work. -- Karl Ove Knausgaard * New York Times * One cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading his work. -- Karl Ove Knausgaard * New York Times * The narration is enjoyably sardonic, a pungent mixture of deadpan jokes about sexual politics and close readingDarkly clever and funny. * Guardian * A fine, deeply literary workIt is genuinely more admiring than critical of IslamIts electrifying; no recent English-language novel compares. * Spectator * Houellebecqs placid dystopias have been among the only contemporary novels worth dropping things for and this is arguably the best of the lota bleakly funny satire on submission and salvationI cant think of another contemporary writer who bares their soul so fearlessly or with such rewards. * Evening Standard * Witty and deftThe polemical power of his imaginationapproaches that of two 20th-century masterpieces, Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New WorldThis is an important novelIts worth remembering that Houellebecq has form in demonstrating that life sometimes imitates art. * Financial Times * Houellebecqs latest, Submission, brings his project to its most accessible realization yet. Whats the project? Jerking your chain at the highest possible level, which a lot of people can sense from the vibe around Houellebecq, and therefore pre-emptively avoid. You shouldnt. The free and wild play of his hatred for modernity and its usual self-flattering reassurances is a tonic to be relished. Houellebecqs respect for his avowed models Lovecraft, and here, Huysmans, reveals a sturdy commitment to older narrative forms, even genres hes a horror writer, here updating the Deal-with-the-devil tale. Lorin Steins relaxed translation catches how Houellebecqs insouciant revulsion for propriety, and his congenital self-loathing, trickles down into a vernacular full of tiny slippages in and out of bourgeois formality, somewhat akin to Inspector Clouseau trying to recapture his authoritativeness after a pratfall. In the past these have read as errors of tone, but in Submission, theyre as funny as I think Houellebecq intends. -- Jonathan Lethem No question about the book of the year: its Michel Houellebecqs Submission in Lorin Steins fluent translationFollowing its publication, the Guardian asked brightly: Does Houellebecq really hate women and Muslims, or is he just a twisted provocateur? But the book is more nuanced and more troubling than that. The narrator doesnt register women who arent young and shaggable tell me thats not how men see women and in this story, its libidinous intellectuals who succumb to the new order because it suits them. Plausible? Sort of. Worrying? Yep. Important? Very. -- Melanie McDonagh * Spectator, Books of the Year * Submission is both a more subtle and less immediately scandalous satire than the brouhaha surrounding it might suggestAll described with lashings of Houellebecqs characteristically phosphorescent bileThat we feel Houellebecqs satire (like all the best from Swift to Cline
Michel Houellebecq is a poet, essayist and novelist. He is the author of several novels including The Map and the Territory (winner of the Prix Goncourt), Atomised, Platform, Whatever and Submission. He was awarded the Legion dHonneur in 2019.