Michel Houellebecq: ‘Am I Islamophobic? Probably, yes’

Shadowed by the plain-clothes police protection officer that now follows him round the clock, Michel Houellebecq, France’s most successful living writer, shuffles into his Paris publisher’s office. His quiet, otherworldly aura is enhanced by the anti-fashion statement of this ageing literary enfant terrible: too-short cord trousers that swing round his ankles, a C&A parka he is rarely without, comfortable shoes and the black backpack he takes everywhere containing his stash of Philip Morris cigarettes, which he smokes between his middle and ring fingers, smoothing his frizzy combover with a nicotine-stained finger.