Annihilation, another Michel Houellebecq provocation?

In 2015 the French writer Michel Houellebecq (1958) published ‘Submission’, a futuristic novel that foreshadowed a catastrophe due to the coming to power of Islamism in 2022; This year Houellebecq returns with a similar proposal: now he places the events in 2027.

‘Annihilation’Anagrama 2022, was published in June and most of the criticism points more towards the writer and his provocative character and much less to the content of his 600 pages.

Is that the French writer is liked by few and does everything to make it always that way.

In the literary criticisms known up to the present time, many errors and few narrative virtueshowever, very few have pointed out the novelist’s success when recounting with admirable literary resources what happened on January 7, 2015.

Let us stir our fragile memory to remember that that day the most terrible attack against freedom of expression took place: the massacre of 11 journalists and cartoonists in the writing of the political humor magazine charlie hebdo (they also killed a policeman).

The attack occurred on the same day that Houellebecq was to publicly present ‘Submission’but the only thing he could do was hide to safeguard his life.

Before reaching that dramatic episode of the new novel, it is necessary to anticipate other milestones, in which the negative critics are probably right.

The beginning of the story is dizzying, everything is full technologyeven well-known names in the field of the Internet and computer hackers are cited: Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

With sophisticated technology, a video goes viral in which the head of the economy ministerBruno Play, rolls across the floor after being beheaded in a modern guillotine. France is in a political campaign and the main character is Paul Raisonadviser to the minister.

Internetas explained by a Jugue image consultant “it only serves two things: downloading pornography and insulting others without any risk”.

Other episodes using 2027 technology were the attack against a gigantic container ship in A Coruña and that of a Belgian sperm bank in Denmark, allegedly perpetrated by “integrist Catholics”.

The fifty-year-old Paul Raison is your typical gentrified middle-class civil servant., who lives for his work and under the same roof with his wife, but in separate rooms; they barely speak.

In reality, problems arise when he reconciles with his wife. At the same time, his father, a retired ex-spy, suffers a stroke; his younger brother, married to an unbearable journalist, commits suicide, and Raison suffers from a disease that leads us to the Charlie Hebdo drama.

The reading of the novel could have been more fluent if it were not for the excessive use of dream language.

As it is a political novel, the author shoots some taunts, such as that Mitterrand is “a liar” or Chirac, an “opportunistic demagogue”.

He claims that political leaders have won elections “thanks to their popularity among morons.”

Paul Raison’s tragedy begins with discomfort in his teeth. He endured the pain, but when he went to the dentist, the professional referred him to an ENT and then to an oncologist: the tumor was irreversible.

He could not avoid either chemo or radiotherapy. The only solution was a prosthesis to replace your jaw and the amputation of his tongue.

One of the doctors suggests reading books, some as self-help, so that he can accept his desperate reality.

Among those texts, which Raison did not know, appears the flap of Philippe Lancona Charlie Hebdo journalist who received a kalashnikov burst full in the face and pulverized his jaw: it happened on January 7, 2015, in Paris.

Following the jaw removal, Raison would have to undergo a tedious anatomical reconstruction which, in the case of the French journalist, took close to two years.

The same author of ‘Serotonin’ and ‘The map and the territory’ explains in the epilogue that the entire scientific story on cancer has the certification of specialized doctors; Here the intellectual responsibility of the French writer is appreciated.

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Annihilation, another Michel Houellebecq provocation?