Houellebecq’s Islamic “Submission” through American eyes
Houellebecq’s Islamic “Submission” through American eyes

I’ve been asked to review Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel “Submission,” a sensation in France.

I never do reviews, particularly if I can’t spell the writer’s last name more than once and refuse to even try. Are you kidding? But I read the book. Bernard-Henri Levy and his sky-high opinion of Michel led me to the book, and it was good. If it did not leave me ecstatic that’s probably my fault for two reasons.

First – perhaps something was lost in translation from his French to my English.

Second – I like writing that’s American style, snappy and punchy. This was intellectual – which is how it is with the French.

Whatever is left of them.

So I liked the concept, about Islam taking over France without much of a fight.

Very good and very big all over Europe. But not entirely original, despite what they keep saying.

Well, nothing is original. So reading it I kept remembering another much earlier European who wrote in French, the absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco. His play “Rhinoceros” is about a place that gets taken over by rhinos and one by one the townsfolk submit because they have no choice, or because they become attracted to the lure of brute force. In the end, only one man is left standing.

There’s something of that in Michel’s “Submission.”

I did wonder about the title. Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a true hero to us all – produced a documentary under that exact title, quite earlier, and under the same concept. Only for her, it was mostly about women and what they had to endure and SUBMIT under oppressive Islam – starting with her own upbringing in Somalia.

Her partner in the project was Theo van Gogh. He was slain by Islamic terrorists as a result of his contribution to the documentary.

So I wondered about the use of the title, but no one else has brought it up, and I do, maybe for a reason, or two reasons…

About two months before I began reading Michel, I began writing a novel about a place not in France but in America where “Nobody Wants Trouble.”

As recently as today, Angela Merkel proclaimed that Islam is not the problem. She is absolutely correct. SHE is the problem.
So because of that, when people start arriving from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the townsfolk in small-town USA submit to the new culture.

Why? Because nobody wants trouble – which was to be the title. It’s fiction, but based on what I’m seeing all around.

My idea was that it wasn’t the Muslims themselves that demanded submission – that came from Christians and Jews who chose to surrender. In fact they, the Christians and the Jews, insisted that we forsake our truths for their truths and substitute our culture for their culture all in the name of Tolerance. It’s happening in Europe and it can happen here.

As recently as today, Angela Merkel proclaimed that Islam is not the problem. She is absolutely correct. SHE is the problem.

Immediately after reading Michel, I gave up on my new concept because it was too close to Michel’s and frankly, I found Michel too close to a political/newsroom thriller I’d written years before – “The Bathsheba Deadline,” in which the entire story of an Islamic takeover in presented through conflicts that arise in a New York City newsroom…and end up in Israel.

There too in my novel people submit, but most guilty are the USA media, who are the first to conform mindlessly to the attraction of Islam. In the end, perhaps only editor Jay Garfield is left standing in lonely defiance. “The Koran has arrived and it has come to devour the Bible” is the theme that runs through the book.

The book elaborately mentions warriors for truth like Robert Spencer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Phyllis Chesler. Chesler (a valorous voice for Israel in Arutz Sheva) champions women’s rights and was herself victimized for a time into Submission. Her memoir “An American Bride in Kabul” is an important book.

Michel is good. But many came before – and a few may be better.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva. His books, including “The Bathsheba Deadline,” are available from Amazon and other retailers. Engelhard wrote the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal” and the award-winning Montreal memoir “Escape from Mount Moriah.” His latest is “News Anchor Sweetheart.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com