Source: edited report by Henry Samuel in The Telegraph, January 13
Houellebecq’s sixth novel, Submission, was published last Wednesday, the day of the massacre of 12 people in and outside Charlie Hebdo’s offices. The author then cancelled his promotional tour and went into hiding.
In Houellebecq’s work, the author imagines presidential elections that see Mohammed Ben Abbes, the head of a fictional Islamic Party, beat Marine Le Pen, the real-life leader of France’s far-right National Front after he cuts a deal with mainstream Left and Right. Almost immediately, France is placed under Sharia law.
In an interview recorded by Canal Plus’s Grand Journal last Thursday, but only broadcast on Monday night, the normally blasé Houellebecq appears grief-stricken at the news of the killings – in particular the death of economist Bernard Maris, a friend.
Barely able to speak, he says: “Yes, I am Charlie. This is the first time in my life that someone I know has been assassinated.”
Bernard Maris, 68, was a respected Left-wing economist and contributor to Charlie Hebdo who admired Houellebecq, even paying tribute to the author in a work called: “Houellebecq Economist”.
“We were supposed to take part in a debate at the end of March because he was about to publish a new book,” said Houellebecq.
“I am stopping the promotion [of Submission] because I don’t want to talk about my book at the moment. I am not in good shape,” he said.
The book has topped the order list on Amazon France.