I read my first snippets of Michel Houellebecq’s writing on a ferry between Bellingham, Wash., and Juneau, Alaska. It was two decades ago, and I was with my family. I sat on the deck of the boat, under an awning, as the fjords of the Inside Passage slipped past me.

Houellebecq was a new voice, and I was reading an excerpt from Extension du domaine de la lutte (published in English as “Whatever”) in Granta magazine.

He’s got a new novel out. He also recently published this apologia for the current president of the United States. The headline is perhaps deliberately trolling, but there isn’t a single American writer of his stature who would be brave enough, or foolhardy or foolish enough, to write this.

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