Controversial Author Michel Houellebecq's 'Submission' Tops French Best-Seller List

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq Berlin Film Festival - H 2014

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq Berlin Film Festival - H 2014

The book imagining a France led by a Muslim president who introduces sharia law leads the list, with collections of 'Charlie Hebdo' drawings also making the top 20.

Controversial French author Michel Houellebecq's latest novel, Submission, has reached the No. 1 spot on the French best-seller list.

Houellebecq was the cover subject of Charlie Hebdo the day the satirical weekly’s offices were attacked by two gunmen, killing 12.
Before its publication, Houellebecq's novel was mired in controversy and slammed as anti-Islamic for its portrayal of a future France in which an Islamist becomes president and institutes sharia law. 

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It’s been No. 1 on Amazon since the day of its release and has now topped the best-seller list in France. The novel depicting France in 2022 ruled by an Islamic president sold more than 120,000 copies of its first 150,000 print run in the first week of release, with 100,000 additional copies set to be printed.

Following a tearful sitdown interview with Canal Plus' Antoine de Caunes, in which he expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo staff, Houellebecq suspended publicity work for the novel in France. He has since appeared in Germany, where100,000 copies were printed.

While Charlie Hebdo itself is in the midst of a record-breaking 7 million print run and still selling out new deliveries at newsstands across France, other books have entered the top 20 list in the wake of renewed interest and support of the newspaper, including The Quiet Recovery: Drawings 2014, featuring the year in cartoons by Charlie Hebdo staff and with a foreword by Bernard Maris, who was killed in the attack.

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Charlie Hebdo 1969–1981, featuring drawings from murdered cartoonists Jean Cabut and Georges Wolinski, among others, is also on the list, as is Fatwas of Charb: A Little Treatise of Intolerance, a satirical book published in 2012 by Stephane Charbonnier, the newspaper’s former editor, who was also killed, and Complete Beef, a retrospective of Cabut’s famed “Beef” character from the 1970s, published last October.

After, Volume 1, by Anna Todd, One Piece, a manga by Eiichiro Oda, French Suicide by Eric Zemmour and E.L. James' global juggernaut Fifty Shades of Grey round out the top five.