A controversial, intelligent, and mordantly funny new novel from France ' s most famous living literary figure
It's 2022. Fran ois is bored. He's a middle-aged lecturer at the New Sorbonne University and an expert on J.Read more...
A controversial, intelligent, and mordantly funny new novel from France's most famous living literary figure
It's 2022. Fran ois is bored. He's a middle-aged lecturer at the New Sorbonne University and an expert on J. K. Huysmans, the famed nineteenth-century novelist associated with the Decadent movement. But Fran ois's own decadence is of considerably smaller scale. He sleeps with his students, eats microwave dinners, and watches YouPorn.
Meanwhile, it's election season, and in an alliance with the Socialists, France's new Islamic party sweeps to power--and Islamic law is instituted. Women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged, and Fran ois is offered an irresistible academic advancement--on the condition that he converts to Islam.
A darkly comic masterpiece from one of France's great writers, Submission by Michel Houellebecq has become an international sensation and one of the most discussed novels of our time.
Book clubs: High-society friends
Melanie Benjamin, the bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife, offers another beautifully crafted historical novel with The Swans of Fifth Avenue. In this hypnotic mix of fact and fiction, Benjamin looks back at the friendship of Truman Capote and glamorous socialite Babe Paley. Impeccable in dress and manners, with a high-profile husband—media magnate William Paley, head of CBS—Babe leads a life that on the surface seems picture perfect. In reality, though, she’s a lonely woman in need of connection, which she finds, unexpectedly, in the mischievous, gossip-loving Truman. The two grow close, but when Truman betrays Babe’s confidence by publishing a story about her unhappy marriage, she ends their relationship. Benjamin’s account of their friendship and falling out is dazzling from start to finish. Through crisp dialogue and a glorious cast of characters that includes Frank Sinatra, Rudolph Nureyev and Katharine Graham, she brings a lost era to vivid life. Brisk, stylish and fully realized, Swans is one of Benjamin’s best.
TURMOIL IN FRANCE
One of the most talked-about books of 2015, Submission, the sixth novel from French author and critic Michel Houellebecq, is an electrifying parody of international politics. Election season 2022 finds François, an instructor at New Sorbonne University, at a dead end. His academic work is at a standstill, and he’s been sleeping with his students. When an Islamic leader named Mohammed Ben-Abbes wins France’s presidential election, life takes a surreal turn. Fearing a surge of anti-Semitism, Myriam, François’ Jewish girlfriend, flees to Israel. At New Sorbonne, only Muslims are allowed to teach, and a number of François’ fellow professors convert to Islam. In this strange new world, François must find his footing and make daunting decisions about his life. Darkly comic and provocative, Houellebecq blends fictional figures with real people, including Marine Le Pen and François Hollande. Houellebecq’s sophisticated wit, command of global politics and understanding of human motivation add up to a classic satire. This timely novel is sure to get book groups talking.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Elizabeth Strout delivers a poignant look at the complexities of parental ties and the need for human connection in My Name Is Lucy Barton. Lucy left behind a difficult past in small-town Illinois to become a writer in New York City. As she recuperates in the hospital after an operation, her long-estranged mother pays a visit—and stays for five days. The two reconnect, sharing memories and catching up on gossip, but they avoid discussing sensitive family-related issues and Lucy’s literary success. Looking back on the visit, Lucy forgives these omissions and lays the past to rest. Her relationship with her mother forms the core of the novel, which Lucy narrates in a voice that’s both precise and poetic. Strout, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge, is a writer who gets better with each book.