Michel Houellebecq considers the French elections of 2027 in his latest novel Destroy | Books
As the French presidential campaign is launched, one of the country’s most provocative writers, Michel Houellebecq, returns with a novel closely linked to the upcoming elections. The 65-year-old author of Atomized and Platform released the French edition of his 730-page novel, Anéantir (Destroy), on Friday, with a first large print run of 300,000 copies.
Annihilate begins during a fictitious presidential election campaign in 2027. Marine Le Pen has resigned as head of the National Rally but the far-right candidate Éric Zemmour is still controversial. President Emmanuel Macron is another real-life figure who, without being named, seems to figure, just like Bruno Le Maire, the current Minister of the Economy. The Mayor, a friend of Houellebecq, is the inspiration for Bruno Juge, one of the protagonists of the story.
The judge criticizes the outgoing president (implied relying on Macron), declaring at one point that the head of state “has one political conviction and only one … ‘I was made to be president.’ After two terms of this leader, Houellebecq presents a country on its knees, with high unemployment and poverty rates.
Houellebecq’s previous satires are believed to have influenced French politics. In its 2015 bestseller Submission, France elects a Muslim president, and the novel stoked fears of an Islamist takeover of France. (When asked by the Guardian at the time if he was Islamophobic, the author replied “probably.”) And his 2019 novel, Serotonin, which criticized globalization and the EU – Houellebecq is known to be fiercely Eurosceptic – seemed to predict the movement of the yellow vests. .
Reviews of Anneant have been largely positive so far. Le Monde describes it as a “political thriller that turns into metaphysical meditation”, even if the magazine L’Obs considered it too long and called it a “yawn”.