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Submission: A Novel Hardcover – October 20, 2015
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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It's 2022. François is bored. He's a middle-aged lecturer at the New Sorbonne University and an expert on J. K. Huysmans, the famous nineteenth-century Decadent author. But François's own decadence is considerably smaller in scale. He sleeps with his students, eats microwave dinners, rereads Huysmans, queues up YouPorn.
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This is the masterful means by which we come to observe several sociological truths. First, nature abhors a vacuum; ergo those who do believe in something will trump the apathetic, the nihilist, and the anomic. Second, the family is a core unit of society; ergo the fraying of ties accompanied by the increased atomization of the individual poses a threat to the societal tapestry that must be addressed. Religions and other ideologies tend to fill the interstices, the cracks that form, rather effectively in a society. The filler in the 2022 France of Submission is a moderate Islam, a religion that already had traction due to Islamic immigration and a high birth rate.
Rest assured that no terrorism is involved; that would be "amateurish" and repugnant. The multiple parties vying for power in France fracture the political system enough to allow the Islamic party to assume power with just 22% of the vote. Those who believe the events described to be totally implausible must not know history. Having lived in places where regime change dramatically transformed societies virtually overnight, I disagree vehemently. As for the criticism that a university would never allow itself to be subsumed into such an ideology, I counter with a decade of teaching experience in the university and another decade as a keen observer. Intellectuals can be co-opted and paid off as easily as other segments of society and are--witness the endowed chairs and the political bent they often have that supports the donors' so neatly. In Submission's Université of Paris, there is abundant money flowing from the Gulf States to fund it all; salaries rise astronomically and those employees who no longer fit are paid sumptuous pensions. Why complain? Now they're free to do their research without the pesky teaching responsibilities. The regime change privileges males: patriarchy is acknowledged as reflective of the order and hierarchy present in nature. Women are relegated to the domestic sphere; polygamy becomes normalized. Again, those privileged by the system are unlikely to complain.
This is a compelling page turner of a novel. It is intelligently written and as a result makes the reader feel smart. It does what great literature should do: it illuminates aspects of the human experience that are both changeless and quite specific to our time. Houellebecq reveals that, despite our disavowals, the undeniable human craving for the meaning and connection that is lacking in their lives can lead them down some rather unexpected paths.
As your man is indeed a man of straw whose only reasons for living are carnal lust, high status and money he takes the offer. Who does he represent? He represents the liberal politically correct elites who who have overwhelmed the academies in the West as well the media elites, and the leftist politicians. The message is this: when the boogie man comes calling these people will roll over for an easy life and pee upon morality, upon national pride and upon the achievements of their ancestors.
Don't trust them.
The story follows our university teacher Francois as he goes through his lackluster daily life filled with ennui. His mediocre day-to-day life is unexpectedly interrupted when the volatile election season hits. Though Francois is not interested in politics or politicians, they are certainly interested in him and his country. As rapid changes follow, Francois is left wondering what, if anything, he should do with the remainder of his life.
The narrative is told through vignettes strung together into a provocative whole. Tales of boredom, sex, literature, politics, religion, violence, desperation, and loneliness in modern society come together to bring the main character to his final decision, which seems like a foregone conclusion. It's a short story, which I finished in a little over a day, but it will definitely leave you thinking. I enjoyed reading it immensely and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind controversy or detailed sexual depictions.