A profile on Michel Houellebecq. [The Guardian] [Books]
“It’s not my role to be responsible. I don’t feel responsible,” he says. “The role of a novel is to entertain readers, and fear is one of the most entertaining things there is.” To him, the fear in Submission comes in the dark violence at the novel’s start, before the moderate Islamist party comes to power. Was he deliberately playing on a mood of fear in France? “Yes, I plead guilty,” he says. For Houellebecq, the job of a novelist is foremost to hold a mirror up to contemporary society.[more inside]
When Satire Conquered Iran: [NYR Blog] Molla Nasreddin, an early twentieth-century Azerbaijani magazine that “attacked the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, the colonial policies of the US and the venal corruption of the local elite, while arguing repeatedly for Westernization, educational reform, and equal rights for women.” [more inside]
Asra Q. Nomani writes in The Wall Street Journal on Sherry Jones's new historical novel, "The Jewel of Medina" about Aisha, the young wife of the prophet Muhammad. Random House has pulled the book for fears of a political and extremist nature. In a statement, Random House said: "We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some. However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House Inc, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the book." Over at the Guardian, you can read more about the controversy.