Placing Lost Intersectional Plots in Houellebecq’s Anéantir (2022): Race, Climate and Scandalous Textual Necropolitics

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Placed in the context of scandals surrounding Houellebecq's earlier novels, Anéantir (2022) is described as strategically losing its political and other plots to focus on the death of its protagonist. This narrative choice cannot, however, dispense with questions raised by representations of race (universalism, colourism, racialization, Islamophobia); of colonial and postcolonial exploitation (including the Françafrique); and of ‘green-bashing’, anthropocentrism and the elision of differential impacts of climate catastrophe. These questions are considered in terms of necropolitical power over who lives or dies, and precarious lives experienced as ‘slow death’. Fiction is established as always already a form of necropolitics–of textual decisions of life and death. Whilst climate catastrophe is not foregrounded in this predominantly anthropocentric narrative, the ultimate question is whether Houellebecq intends any kind of self-reflexive ‘ecocritique’, or whether the gravest global scandal—of human contributions to climate crisis—is ignored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-105
Number of pages14
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2023


  • Houellebecq
  • Anéantir
  • necropolitics
  • slow death
  • ecocritique
  • La Françafrique
  • racism
  • climate change

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