As the 2022 French Presidential election looms, two candidates emerge as favourites: Marine Le Pen of the Front National, and the charismatic Muhammed Ben Abbes of the growing Muslim Fraternity. Forming a controversial alliance with the political left to block the Front National’s alarming ascendency, Ben Abbes sweeps to power, and overnight the country is transformed. This proves to be the death knell of French secularism, as Islamic law comes into force: women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged and, for our narrator François – misanthropic, middle-aged and alienated – life is set on a new course.
Submission is a devastating satire, comic and melancholy by turns, and a profound meditation on faith and meaning in Western society.
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 years…He is a writer with a gift for telling the truth, unlike any other in our time – I’ve been consistently saying he is the writer who matters most to me for many years now. I’ve read Submission twice in the last week with ever growing admiration and enjoyment. There’s 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 politics…There is nobody else writing now more worth reading.
One cannot be said to be keeping abreast of contemporary literature without reading his work.
The narration is enjoyably sardonic, a pungent mixture of deadpan jokes about sexual politics and close reading…Darkly clever and funny.
A fine, deeply literary work…It is genuinely more admiring than critical of Islam…It’s electrifying; no recent English-language novel compares.