In Submission, Michel Houellebecq posits a future France in which the new Islamic party gains power through an alliance with the Socialist party. The Islamic party’s primary concerns are with education and the birth rate. The party ends compulsory education at age twelve, severely limits women’s access to higher education, and provides a “Muslim educational option” at all levels. The party also emphasizes the primacy of the family unit, even in economics, while sanctioning polygamy and veiled dress for women. Through these means, the party grows and indoctrinates new generations with the goal of gaining control of an expanded E.U.
Houellebecq, who won the 2010 Prix Goncourt, tells his story through the eyes of Francois. This middle-aged lecturer at the Sorbonne has lost any passion for living and must choose to either end his academic career or reap ample rewards by fulfilling the condition he convert to Islam. Francois wanders through this Stepford-esque political takeover while pondering the late-in-life religious conversion of the writer on whom he is an expert. A true satire, Submission both entertains and provides ample food for thought.
(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of the book in Manhattan Book Review.)