Michel Houellebecq, born Michel Thomas in Réunion in 1956, is a highly controversial French author, poet and filmmaker. He adopted his grandmother's maiden name Houellebecq as his pen name.
Michel Houellebecq published his first novel, "Whatever" in 1994, followed by the nihilistic classic "Atomised" (1998), "Platform" (2001) and "The Map and the Territory" (2010), which won the Prix Goncourt. His best-known work, "Submission" was released on January 7, 2015, the same day a terrorist attack occurred on the "Charlie Hebdo" editorial offices in Paris. The book describes France in 2022, ruled by a fictional Islamist regime. The author's dark humor and misanthropic approach has stirred up controversy in France and abroad, and, while applauded by some critics, he has also been accused of obscenity, racism, misogyny and Islamophobia.
France is still reeling from back-to-back terrorist attacks that left 17 people dead in Paris last week. On the same day as the tragedy, Michel Houellebecq's biting new novel, which imagines France under Sharia Law, was released. The book is now part of a swirling debate about the country's identity.