Dnow, he inspires writers. In As long as we are both (Flammarion), Gaël Tchakaloff tells about the couple formed by Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron. In Those who endure too much (Verticals), Arno Bertina reports on the fight of the employees of the GM&S mechanical parts factory, an automobile subcontractor, to save their endangered jobs. In Annihilate (Flammarion), Michel Houellebecq portrays an official from Bercy surrounded by death and saved by love. A priori, nothing in common: a tale of power, a committed documentary, a dark novel. However, there is a bridge between these three literary and political works: Bruno Le Maire. The three opus are crossed by the figure of the current Minister of the Economy and Finance. He appears in a disguise with Gaël Tchakaloff, in his function of minister with Arno Bertina, in a romantic form with Michel Houellebecq.
From September 2017 to June 2020, Arno Bertina followed the struggle of the employees of the automotive supplier GM&S in La Souterraine, in Creuse. The author narrates an attempt at negotiations with around the table, on one side, Minister Bruno Le Maire and Secretary of State Benjamin Griveaux and, on the other side, union representatives Vincent Labrousse and Patrick Brun. An extremely harsh portrait of Bruno Le Maire, representing and symbolizing a cynical state incapable of keeping its promises. The workers try to alert the political powers, in vain. They hope to obtain orders from French manufacturers when the relocation has already started.
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In Annihilate, we find the laudatory portrait of a minister
Gaël Tchakaloff gives the floor to a minister currently anonymized in government. In a long tirade, the politician denounces a president who lacks confidence in himself and an entourage of great mediocrity. Without a shadow of a doubt, Bruno Le Maire is recognized. The Minister thus offers among the most disturbing and pregnant pages of As long as we are both. The author and the minister formally deny each other. They do not convince anyone. Bruno Le Maire is himself a writer. He knows that any writing involves a betrayal of privacy. We write to say the shadow and not the light. In one of his best books, Statesmen (2008), Bruno Le Maire recounted in fine writing the relations between Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin. The book had annoyed the three politicians.
Michel Houellebecq walked around Bercy and regularly talks with Bruno Le Maire. The two men have a friendly relationship. In Annihilate, we find the laudatory portrait of a Minister of the Economy and Finance named Bruno Juge. The politician is described by the writer as a great human and upright minister. The main character, Paul Raison, works in his office. He manages his agenda. Under the pen of Michel Houellebecq, Bruno Juge will become the most powerful politician in France.
Between the two men, Paul Raison and Bruno Juge, a happy friendship. The differences between Bruno Le Maire and Bruno Juge are obviously numerous. But we cannot help but note a disturbing echo between the two authors. In Paul, a friendship (2019), Minister Bruno Le Maire accompanied in his last moments Paul, suffering from cancer. In Annihilate, Minister Bruno Juge is of great help to Paul, who is suffering from cancer. Michel Houellebecq did not choose these two first names at random.
Bruno Le Maire has often been described as too wise, too bourgeois, too bland. He was not printing. The Minister of the Economy appears today in three literary works in five months under different faces: an incarnation of the failing and cold state (Arno Bertina), a free and critical speech with the exercise of power (Gaël Tchakaloff) , a human and complex politician (Michel Houellebecq). Bruno Le Maire, he writes and he is writing.
Annihilate by Michel Houellebecq, Flammarion, 740 pages, 26 euros (in bookstores on January 7)