PARIS: French author Michel Houellebecq has suspended the promotion of his new novel “Submission”, a dystopian vision of France under Islamic rule, after this week’s massacre at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, his agent said.
The book was released on Wednesday — the same day that 12 people were killed when gunmen stormed the magazine’s Paris office, including some of France’s best known cartoonists.
Houellebecq’s friend Bernard Maris, a left-wing economist, was among those killed and the author was “deeply affected by the death”, his agent Francois Samuelson told AFP.
He “left Paris to get away from it all, to the snow”, Houellebecq’s publisher Flammarion added.
The cover of Charlie Hebdo, published the day of the attack, showed a caricature of Houellebecq and included several pages dedicated to “Submission” — which imagines a Muslim-governed France in 2022.
At once dubbed “sublime” and “irresponsible”, the novel has provoked significant debate, with critics accusing Houellebecq of stirring up Islamophobia and helping the cause of France’s far-right National Front.
The author is no stranger to controversy and his latest novel received blanket media coverage in France this week.
Houellebecq prompted outrage in 2001 by stating in an interview that “the most stupid religion is, let’s face it, Islam”.
According to Samuelson, Houellebecq is not currently under police protection.