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Michel Houellebecq’s sixth novel, Soumission, was published today, January the 7th, in France. According to it, the leader of France’s Muslim party has beaten the far-right Front National in the Presidential election, women abandon Western dress and leave work, non-Muslim teachers are forced out of their jobs and polygamy is reinstated: this is France in 2022. When confronted with accusations of Islamophobia, Houellebecq claimed that he was not writing out of fear and that “things don’t go all that badly” in the book, except if you were a “feminist”.

Also todayJanuary the 7th, at least 12 people have been killed in a shooting incident at the Paris office of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Video footage posted to social media showed armed gunmen running through the streets of Paris, shooting with automatic weapons and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. According to an eye-witness, one of the gunmen shouted: “The Prophet is avenged.”

“I accelerate history, but no, I can’t say that the book is a provocation; if that means saying things I consider fundamentally untrue just to get on people’s nerves,” Michel Houellebecq said. “I condense an evolution that is, in my opinion, realistic.”

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