David Sexton, in the World edition Spectator:
For many years, Michel Houellebecq was patronized by the French literary establishment as an upstart, what with his background in agronomy rather than literature, his miserable demeanor, his predilection for science fiction and his gift for unyieldingly saying the unsayable, especially about relations between the sexes.
That’s all changed now. He won the Prix Goncourt in 2010 for The Map and the Territory and in 2019 was elevated to the Légion d’Honneur. The Nobel cannot be long delayed, the committee after all having honored the equally ornery V.S. Naipaul and J.M. Coetzee.
Houellebecq’s new novel Anéantir, published in January in a luxury edition of 300,000 copies, was a quasi-official event in France, heralded by a reverential two-part interview in Le Monde in which he confided that he was a bit of an alcoholic and quite the tart, since he wrote not for money or applause but to be loved.
Some 736 pages long, Anéantir begins as almost a spy thriller, set around the upcoming election, but then morphs into a study of the treatment of the old and helpless, followed by a harrowing account of fatal illness, alleviated only by the return of conjugal love to a couple long estranged. Houellebecq being Houellebecq, it is specified that the dying man enjoys a dreamy blowjob lasting three hours — but the novel is otherwise chaste and grave, Houellebecq signing off by saying it is time
Yet although widely translated in Europe already, no English version seems yet to be scheduled. That’s a pity, not only because it will appear after the period in which it is set, but it was the enthusiasm of English-language readers that did much to compel French critics to acknowledge that Houellebecq was, whether they liked it or not, their writer with most impact internationally. …
Dozy publishers we have.
They aren’t dozy. They are obviously cancelling Houellebecq because though he’s a great writer, he’s reactionary.