Houman Barekat at Literary Review:
That an author so notoriously sex-obsessed should concern himself with something as wholesome as ‘happiness’ looks, at first sight, like something of a contradiction. But Houellebecq was never really a hedonist. While often gratuitously graphic, his sex scenes are notably listless: related in blandly functional prose, they are conspicuously devoid of eroticism or joy. What some have interpreted as licentiousness could in fact be seen as the inverted prudery of the repressed social conservative. In Houellebecq’s fiction the libido, whether waxing or waning, is a problem to be overcome.
In an essay published in Harper’s earlier this year, Houellebecq praised Donald Trump’s protectionist economic policies, describing his administration as a ‘necessary ordeal’, a corrective to the free market fundamentalism that has dominated Western politics for so long. His disaffected protagonists embody the impulse, common to Left and Right alike, to halt the juggernaut of unfettered globalisation.