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Islamophobia in French Fiction: Michel Houellebecq
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CitationHaliloğlu, N. (2019). Islamophobia in French fiction: Michel Houellebecq. Batumi Winter School, Batum, 14 February 2019.
Michel Houellebecq’s novel Soumission, about an Islamic party coming to power in France, attracted a lot of critical attention after the horrendous attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices. This paper aims to look at the novel Submission and its reception by reviewers, which reveals the book to be yet another cultural product upon which we can transfer our agendas and silences. I will look at reviews from the Anglophone world and a radio programme ‘Saturday Review’. These are assessments of the novel that claim that Houellebecq’s gender politics, and the metaphors he uses for gender politics too often get neglected in favour of his apocalyptic approach to the state of society in Europe. The reviews both question and demonstrate how acceptable it is to use misogynist and anti-Muslim rhetoric in works of fiction, and through that discussion reveal, once again how anti-woman and anti-Muslim rhetoric and wording can be interchangeable; particularly when it comes to intellectual capacity. When critics condemn one, they have to condemn the other, and it reveals current understandings of the limits of free speech: some identities are more malignable than others. Houellebecq’s Soumission, I argue, forms a part of the geneaology of conflating all manners of subalterns, in this case women and Muslims.