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Wed Oct 21, 2015, 07:41 AM

Paris Review Editor Says Literary Bad Boy Houellebecq's Book Misunderstood


The latest novel by Michel Houellebecq, the bad boy of French letters, has been called everything from an Islamophobic rant to a “French literary suicide.” Imagining the election of a Muslim president in France, “Submission” struck a raw nerve when it came out this year on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Paris Review Editor Says New Houellebecq Book Misunderstood

By GREG KELLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS PARIS — Oct 18, 2015, 7:52 AM ET

The latest novel by Michel Houellebecq, the bad boy of French letters, has been called everything from an Islamophobic rant to a "French literary suicide." Imagining the election of a Muslim president in France, "Submission" struck a raw nerve when it came out this year on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

But its English translator Lorin Stein — editor of the celebrated Paris Review literary journal — relishes something in the novel he says many critics miss: humor.

"It struck me as a much funnier book than the one they were describing," Stein, a noted literary critic, told The Associated Press.

"Submission," published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, is released in the U.S. on Tuesday. A French best-seller with 650,000 copies sold, Houellebecq's sixth novel has divided opinions in France more than any of his previous books. That's no small accomplishment given the oeuvre's mixture of explicit sex and politically incorrect opinions, and the author's own past erratic behavior — antics that include passing out drunk during an interview and holding a press conference in a grocery store.

more: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/paris-review-editor-houellebecq-book-misunderstood-34553592
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Soumission and Charlie Hebdo:

In a tragically ironic twist, "Submission" went on sale in January the very day that Islamic extremist gunmen attacked the offices of the satirical newspaper "Charlie Hebdo" — the start of a killing spree that left 20 people dead. One of Houellebecq's friends was among those killed at the newspaper, and the author immediately scrapped a promotional tour and went under police protection.


Houellebecq was pictured on the cover of the edition that went on sale that day:

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