Michel Houellebecq has called off his book tour and has left Paris for "an unspecified rural retreat," the Guardian reports.
Houellebecq's new novel, "Soumission," was published Wednesday, the day of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices that left 12 dead. Houellebecq had been featured on the magazine's cover and cartoons inside satirized him and his book.
After the attack, the offices of his French publisher Flammarion were evacuated and placed under police protection.
Houellebecq is a prize-winning provocateur whose works have often caused controversy. "Soumission," or "Submission," set in France in 2022, is about the election of a Muslim president and the changes that follow. In it, "women abandon Western dress and leave work, non-Muslim teachers are forced out of their jobs and polygamy is reinstated," according to the Telegraph.
The Guardian notes that the timing of the book's release and the assault "is striking." After the attack, the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, told reporters: "France is not Houellebecq. It's not intolerance, hatred and fear."
When or whether Houellebecq will return to his book promotion has not been announced.