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Review of History of Violence by Edouard Louis, translated by Lorin Stein The follow on to the autobiographical novel of The End of Eddy and Eddy is now living in Paris and heading to his apartment after a Christmas Eve meet with friends for Dinner. He is stopped in the street by a stranger and while Eddy tries to get away, eventually they both go back to hi with the night ending in Reda raping, assaulting and trying to murder Eddy. The novel deals with the event and aftermath, told through both Eddy's point of view and from listening to his sister tell her husband about what happened. This I found to be a very engrossing, heartfelt, afflicting read about the trauma of a traumatic event, trying to tell it to the French police the incident but responses of racism as the perpetrator was of North African descent, trying to deal with friends and family about the incident. The narration of the event takes on a kind of slow motion in it. Definitely not a book for everyone but I did feel that despite the difficult subject of the novel, that it was an excellent, affecting and absorbing read. * * * * *
Review of Submission by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Lorin Stein The controversial novel from Michel Houellebecq as if he'd write any thing but controversial text. In this novel as various articles about it referred to is that the Muslim Brotherhood wins the French presidential election in the run off against Marine Le Pen so their candidate, Ben Abbes takes over from Hollande in 2022 (so this is not a prophetic novel, complete fiction ) . Hoellebecq in a previous novel, the woeful Platform had long long anti-Muslim rants and I worried there could be the same in this. The main character is Francois, a senior professor in a Paris University on literature, his specialist writer being the 19th century novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans. He regularly spends the year in a relationship with one of his students. Currently it is a Jewish girl called Myriam. Francois is probably also the most outgoing and social main character for a Houellebecq novel, occasionally attending functions and accepting dinner invitations although when compared to the others, this wasn't hard. Some usual tropes of his are also present - bad/non-existent parental links, , detailed sexual content. I am intrigued with a few paragraphs on the flaws of nationalism on page 215 though my biggest conclusion being those in academic world who convert to Islam to keep their jobs are those that previously had nativist/national front connections and the imagined France under Abbes' Muslim Brotherhood being the Frances that liberals/left-wingers/socialists etc would be against but the support of these groups in the run of was what got Abbes elected only to see Abbes bring in policies contrary to these. I see this more than a critique on Islam/Muslim,it is more I feel a satire on politics in general and I think shots are taking against all sides. I quite enjoyed this novel. Some Houellebecq novels have been terrible (Platform and Whatever) and some have been excellent (Atomised and The Possibility of an Island). This fits in as not being his greatest work but very good nonetheless. * * * *