Taking its name from a famous 1962 British novel and subsequent 1971 movie about a society overrun by violent, thuggish, anarchic youths, a best-selling new book about crime in modern France has caused a sensation due to its strong racial undertones.
"La France: Orange Mecanique" ("France: A Clockwork Orange") by Laurence Obertone claims that France is descending into a state of savagery and immorality and that the true magnitude of crime and violence across the country has been under-reported by the media, government and police.
The Daily Telegraph reported that, in stark contrast to the popular notion of France as a country of high culture, charm and genteel living, the book suggests that a huge vortex of mindless incivility lurks just beneath a pleasant veneer of French society.
Released in the middle of January, "Clockwork Orange" has sold 35,000 copies, reaching the fifth spot in the weekly Ipsos-Livres Hebdo bestseller list, and currently ranks third in Amazon.com’s list of most requested books in France.
The work alleges that "every 24 hours 13,000 thefts, 2,000 attacks and 200 rapes" occur in France – numbers that far exceed the official crime statistics of the Paris government. An endless series of gruesome crimes, including rape and murder, are catalogued in the book in explicit detail.
“The real level of insecurity, probably the worst in the history of the French Republic, is around 12 million crimes per year," Obertone claims.
The book has come under severe criticism from criminologists and others who accuse Obertone of simply aping extreme right-wing theories that link criminal activity with immigration and race.
"This accumulation of more or less accurate figures and truncated crimes serves one purpose: to reach the [perfectly explicit] conclusion that all this is the fault of Arabs and Blacks and that hundreds of thousands of new prison places should be opened to shut them up," said prominent French criminologist Laurent Muchelli, in response to the book’s apparent popularity.
Indeed, the foremost right-wing politician in France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigration National Front party, has urged people to read the book (an endorsement that reportedly helped spike sales).
Obertone, which is actually a pseudonym for a 28-year-old journalist whose real name remains a mystery, recently told France-2 television channel: "I am fighting for a truth I have felt and that does not get the media exposure it deserves."
The website for the book states that Obertone was born in 1984 and is a graduate of the School of Journalism of Lille in northern France and that in September 2011 he resigned from his job at the Weekly journal to devote himself to writing "Clockwork Orange."
But Obertone denies that he is a right-wing ideologue, claiming he has no political bias one way or another. Nonetheless, Mediapart, a leftist investigative website, claims it has unmasked Obertone as the owner of a racialist blog. He is planning to file charges of defamation against Mediapart in retaliation.
Still, the book and its implications have been embraced by far-right groups in France, the UK and the United States.
Rémi Tremblay, a Quebecois author and activist, wrote in a review of the book for the racialist American Renaissance website: “If this book -- which describes the true face of crime in France -- had been published before last year’s presidential elections, it might have had an impact on the outcome, swaying votes towards the Right.”