Faulks, who turned to the Koran while researching his latest novel, said: ‘It’s a depressing book. It really is. It’s just the rantings of a schizophrenic. It’s very one-dimensional, and people talk about the beauty of the Arabic and so on, but the English translation I read was, from a literary point of view, very disappointing.

‘There is also the barrenness of the message,’ he told The Sunday Times. ‘I mean, there are some bits about diet, you know, the equivalent of the Old Testament, which is also crazy…

With the Koran there are no stories. And it has no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life. It says ‘the Jews and the Christians were along the right tracks, but actually, they were wrong and I’m right, and if you don’t believe me, tough — you’ll burn for ever’. That’s basically the message of the book.’