The enfant terrible of French literature receives the Legion of Honor

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Michel Houellebecq, the best-known and most provocative novelist in France, will next Thursday receive the highest civil distinction in France from the hands of President Emmanuel Macron, for his services to French literature, the Elysee announced on Saturday.

The 63-year-old was nominated for the prestigious award on January 1, with his name on the New Year’s honors list.

The nomination came shortly before the release of his latest bestselling novel Serotonin, widely distributed around the world.

Dark and poignant, the story features desperate Norman farmers who put in place an armed blockade of the roads in the midst of clashes with the police like “yellow vests”.

Written before the current anti-government movement of yellow vests, Serotoninseems to have anticipated the festering rage in provincial France which exploded in the demonstrations of yellow vests and the worst social crisis to have hit the government of Emmanuel Macron.

A look to the future

Houellebecq’s latest novel, Submission, also had a phantasmagorically visionary character. He envisioned a France subject to Sharia law after electing a Muslim president in 2022, and featured on the cover of Charlie hebdo just days before the magazine’s office was attacked by Islamist gunmen in 2015, killing 12 people.

The novel has sold over 800,000 copies in the French-speaking world.

Platform, Houellebecq’s controversial debut novel about sex tourism and terrorism, came out a year before the Bali bombings in 2002.

Sometimes forced to live under police protection, this enfant terrible of French literature continues to provoke indignation with raw and often stinging comments on religion, politics and society.


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