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Warm, eloquent, and decisive. 

May 22, 2022

In not so many word does Madeleine Feeny describe ..

Leïla Slimani, but here we go. She is an international literary star, a poster-woman of French multiculturalism and a leading voice on human rights. 

Leïla Slimani is Moroccan by birth. Her mother is a surgeon and her father an economist. At the tender age of seventeen she moved to Paris to study political science at the prestigious Sciences Po.

In French, the school is called the Institut d’études politiques de Paris. A group of French intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and politicians headed by Émile Boutmy came together to found Sciences Po in 1872. The group included others such as Paul Leroy Beaulieu, Ernest Renan, and Albert Sorel.

In 2008 Leïla Slimani began reporting for the magazine Jeune Afrique.

Leila Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, which she won for The Perfect Nanny. First awarded in 1903, The Prix Goncourt is a prize in French literature, given by the académie Goncourt to the author of “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year“. The prize carries a symbolic reward of only 10 euros, but results in considerable recognition and book sales for the winning author.

Inspired by the real-life story of the murder of the Krim siblings, critics site and read the novel – The Perfect Nanny – as incredibly engaging and disturbing. “An unsettling and disturbing framework is set and the reader now views the rest of the story from the beginning, all the while knowing how this is going to end.” Others see Leïla Slimani first translated novel, less of a thriller and more of a character study. A great emotional jeopardy for everyone involved.

 In childhood I would read very long Russian and French family sagas and ask myself if I would be able to write such a book one day. – Leïla Slimani

Her first novel, Adèle, won the La Mamounia Prize for the best book by a Moroccan author written in French in 2015 — a prize for French-language fiction by Moroccan authors. Adèle, the novel she wrote before that breakthrough success of the Perfect Nanny has been translated into English by Sam Taylor.

Adèle seeks power through sex, she’s attracted to powerful men and she relies on them to overpower her. If Adèle were asked about #MeToo, she would throw back her head with her usual loud laugh and say that the men are only acting as the women want them to. Leïla Slimani began writing the novel when the Dominique Strauss-Kahn trial was in the news, and there’s some attempt to reverse the usual power structures by making the sex addict a woman.

Adèle is a modern-day Madame Bovary, but the book itself has less in common with Flaubert than with the sensation novels that Emma Bovary reads addictively. Slimani is trying to shock, arouse and titillate us with extreme mental states. Addiction makes a good subject for her because Adèle’s desire to live a fantasised version of her own life seems to mirror Slimani’s desire to write sleek, fantastical prose, not quite committing to building a three-dimensional world.

When you’re an artist, it’s very important to try to produce things that seem impossible at the beginning. – Leïla Slimani

Slimani’s novels are hard to categorise. They combine the pace of the thriller with the flatness of tone that we might associate with Michel Houellebecq, or indeed with Camus and Robbe-Grillet. Like those writers, Slimani is drawn to revealing the hellishness of the ordinary and the ordinariness of hell. But this isn’t social satire or commentary. Class and race matter – in Lullaby the employer was of north African descent and the nanny white; here Richard is upper class, Adèle working class – but these aren’t novels hustling for social change or even pushing us to be more honest about the falsity of bourgeois life. They are too story-driven for that. -Lara Feigel

Its memorable antiheroine and stark portrait of addiction made an instant impact, earning Adèle the La Mamounia literary award in Morocco.  

A critic of the burqa, she has campaigned for the decriminalization of abortion and nonconjugal sex in Morocco, winning the 2020 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom along with the film director Sonia Terrab and the human rights activist Karima Nadir. Her political activism isn’t confined to women’s rights, either: in 2017, she rejected the new French president Emmanuel Macron’s offer of the role of culture minister, accepting that of Francophone affairs minister instead. To Macron, she “represents the open face of francophonie to a multicultural world.”

Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she now lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.

I’m a mixed-race person: I’m both French and Moroccan, I speak Arabic and French, and I’m part Muslim, part Christian. I don’t really know who I am or where I belong.- Leïla Slimani

When I write, I never think I have to be very explicit about everything because my reader may not understand. In my books, some characters are very racist, and I don’t need to explain to my reader that I’m not racist. We have to put more intelligence and complexity into the world and not more stupidity. – Leïla Slimani

The impetus for the non-fiction stories about the sex lives of Moroccan women- Sex and Lies.

I went on a tour with Adèle in Morocco and one day I was in Rabat and at the end of the lecture I went to a cafe and a woman sat next to me and she began to tell me about her life, and more precisely about her sexual life. And she said, “You know, I can understand Adèle, even if I’m not a sex addict and I’m not suffering like her. But I understand her because like Adèle I lie all the time. I lie about my sexuality because I live in a country where I have no choice but lying.”  – Leïla Slimani

Sexe et mensonges, her 2017 non-fiction book about the sexual desires of Moroccan women, is next to be translated by Sam Taylor.

15 Comments
  1. This is a beautiful writing 💕🙌🤩. Warm, eloquent, and decisive is how I would describe you and this post 💓💯😂😘

    • You are so kind, thank you very much my darling🤗😘
      Good morning to you.☕😍
      I’m just in the throws of drying my hair. Our water is back, so I had to have that shower and get my hair cleaned. I’m so scared that the water is cut again.
      The sun is showing face and the rain has stopped for about an hour now…. i can hear the birds 😘🤗😍
      They are happy too.😂
      Thank God. 🙏🏼

      • Hahahaha good day to you my darling 🙌🌹😘😘. I really appreciate how great you feel about my comments ☺️☺️☺.

        I really wanted to send you my message of embrace and support over your lovely writings haha. It’s good to see what you are up to — it sounds refreshing 👍😂😂. I am also happy that the water is back and I understand your feelings about the water potentially cutting again 😅; I hope that it will be a long time before it goes off once more but try to see if you can catch and store as much water as you can while it’s on lol.

        WOW, it sounds like things have become beautiful and I hope you are able to enjoy it while it lasts ☀🤩🤩💕

      • And yes a very good day to you too once more my darling😘
        Yes of course I’m estatic about your comment. It is such a pleasing feeling when someone comes to read in my corner and actually enjoy the offering.

        Thank you for the warm embrace🤗😍, yes I cherish it. Yes I love delving into literature and I really enjoy exploring writers outside of the English domain, so I’m travelling around in cyber to meet these writers and their works. I have looked at quite a bit of eastern european authors in my youth and i wish to revisit again. I think there are some potholes I need to fill in.
        So yes, like you mentioned it is a refreshing journey. 🙌 🙂🤗

        Warm water flowed, my we are really so dependent on running water. For the last 24 hrs we had to adjust considerably. It was quite an adventure. We have a jojo tank. In fact we have two. They catch the water running from the roof then along the gutters.

        It’s cold, but as I’m writing to you, the sun is streaming through my windows. The wind is still restless, but sounds friendlier. 👌 🙂😍

      • I am happy that my comment brings you plenty of pleasure as yours do for me as well whenever would I read you comments and your blog posts 👍🌹☺️🥰. It is indeed a blessing hahaa.

        You are welcome 🤗🌹💯; I always love to embrace my friends and let them know and feel that they are appreciated 🙌😆💙💙. I can definitely tell that you love literature and that you also have alot of admiration for writers and authors of various backgrounds including those outside of the english domain as you said, and that is so wonderful because it is something that you love doing and I can see that it brings you lots of splendor and excitement, not to mention helps you aswell write some very interesting things 👏👏✍️😄.

        Exactly, there is no doubt about that and that makes me very happy for you 💕🤩

        Absolutely, running water is extremely important because it is relevant to so many aspects of our daily lives; we literally need water every single day. We need water more then we need electricity or gas. We can find workarounds to compensate for the lack of those othe things but there is no substitute for water 👍👍😄. I am happy you have atleast 2 jojo tanks to help you catch water; in circumstances like the ones you face, you can never have enough lol

        Yes it may be cold but atleast there is no flooding in your immediate area and the sun will provide some much needed light as well as help to stabilize conditions to prevent disasterous extremities.

      • It’s fun to read blogs, and then to find out how much you like what you read.
        The world of reading has changed so much since the internet.
        Thank you, ♥ 😊 🙏🏼 ♥, for bringing a blessing.

        Yes reading the work and life of authors and poets make the world of difference to my own abilities. Reading them gives me a deeper understanding of style and approach to language, subject and themes. Yes it is just gives me joy. And I am fascinated. 😊

        Such a relief with the running water. The earth is also quiet. I love rain, but these days more and more I feel the anguish of rain and the disquiet of it all. Well at least we don’t need to water the garden for a couple of days. True, water is the absolute jewel. We are water. 🙂Oh definitely, the jojo tanks are a special kind of blessing in these times🙂😉.
        Yes I have a feeling the sun will come out in full force. I’m looking forward to a real royal Monday. ♥😘🙏🏼 and feel comfy with the cold. Mwah…have a lovely day there😍

      • Yes blogs and the internet as a whole is a place where you can read about all kinds of things ✍️📓☺️☺️

        That is true ✔🙌👌. In general, I am someone who likes alot of physical activity, and hooking stuff up and opening things and fixing things, building things etc, but when I am doing research and gathering information for whatever reason, I can’t help but appreciate what a terrific value and benefit the internet is lol

        That would certainly be the case — you never know what you are going to find out when you see what’s written and how it was done; there is so much to take in concerning this area and sometimes you learn new words and even how to punctuate and things like that haha.

        That’s good news, it definitely should be a huge relief to have running water lol. I fell your unease when it comes to the the continuous rain fall, that is the thing, the rain is great but too much of anything isn’t, it’s the same thing with the sun, it is good to have sun but if it’s to the extent of drying up everything and making us feel as if we are in a furnace, it is a situation that would be just as irritable for us. Hahaha correct, water is a must and thankfully you are blessed with a few JoJo tanks to help you reserve and conserve some of that precious gift of nature ✌️✌️😇.

        That is indeed something to look foward to and it’s fortunate that we know that this has and does already happen in your neck of the woods atleast so it is a realistic expectation 💯👌. Awww thank you, enjoy the rest of your day aswell 💕🤗🥰

      • Reading matter that matters to you, me and others can be found in this ever expanding web of information. And thankfully we have choices, to touch the studios and libraries that tweak our interests.
        Nostalgia still reigns supreme holding a hardcover or paperback in the hands, but it isn’t always possible so technology has given us the touch screen, a breakthrough in reading, research and writing.

        Yes 😉 I see that side of you. Taking things apart and fixing them up too. I love working with my hands as well. Touching and feeling for real, stepping away from the desk and doing makes our world go round. 🚶‍♀️ 😘, yet the reading experience as we know it today is a gamechanger in communication and learning for all areas of our daily living. So many fruits to harvest, cherry picking here, carrot growing next door, see the grapes hanging over there, it is mind-blowing. Oh yes and the joys of punctuation and vocabulary extention cannot be overstated enough. And learning each day, traveling through the web from city to city and coast to coast that wonders never cease. What a time to be alive.
        Man we have to honor the construction of water systems especially the people who work in the sector. Drinking-water distribution network reticulation systems are so vital to our modern way of life. That we neglect to maintain a legacy of public pipe works is soul destroying. Opening a tap for clean running water, without having to carry buckets of it, is so good for the soul. Every household should have access to taps and running, yes and hot water. Man I can go on and on about how Isaac and Abraham built wells wherever they settled. Water is a jewel.
        Aye tell me more about the sun, there are days that the heat can make you miserable, you long and call for the rain. These two extremes scorchers and flooders can turn our mental states to jump around, never mind the freezers. Lol we prefer the fine tuning, just the right balance of all of them. We should be ready by now, the world over for all these weather patterns, protection from each one. 😊
        Yes my darling😘😍, the sun will shine just right in the morning. Right now in the middle of the fading night, I can hear the earth speaking, 🌎 🎶 ✨ ❤, sleep sweetly, goodnight 😴 😘 💖

      • Of course 👌💯😇, that is the case for many of us; we all tend to read things that we have personal interest in for various reasons and we also can put things out there for others to read too which creates a very diverse web and network of material to intrigue, entertain and stimulate us haha.

        It is in fact good to have physical copies of things relative to certain content and that we have great enthusiasm over but often we care more about the substance and the information than the format or the looks, and that’s where the internet and digital innovations come into play lol.

        Yes, I actually believe this is a common trait that would be observe in most men; we tend to have a very hands-on approach when it comes to life, plus being around my father who actually had a knack for being a bit of a handy man, also influenced me in developing interest to that degree, but otherwise, generally speaking, as man I am just one other example of that and it is definitely fun to take certain things apart and see how they work or see if you can make them better and learn from them and even possibly develop and design your own constructions inspired by many of the things we use or many of the things we might take for granted. So the thing about me personally is that I have a wide scope of interests as far as general life activity is concerned. Also, it is good to see what you’ve told me about yourself and how you also love working with your hands as well, and yes, people doing interesting things is what makes life worth living LOL. That is so true, reading today has changed in the sense that it is more convenient but whether we read something from a book or read something online, it’s still “reading” so not much has changed in the actual act of reading, people just have more options to “access” things to read or what they want to read. There is alot of wholesome variety to choose from when it comes to reading in regard to the point that you were making about there being so many fruits to harvest lol. Examining how to use certain punctuation and learning about different ways to express certain elements like thoughts or quotes within certain scenarios, or specific types of expressions is one of the other fun things I like to pay attention to.

        For me, as someone who doesn’t have an overly academic background, it never gets old to look into these kinds of aspects on my own from time to time. It often seems that there is always something there in the area of grammar and vocabulary even though things look rather streamlined to us at first glance. But yes it’s good to look around with an open mind in many different areas to become exposed to all sorts of handy and interesting concepts and executions of certain writing and literary standards and principles. I really liked how you likened it to going through a web from city to city and coast to coast with endless attractions 🙌🙌🤩💯. Drinking water and clean fresh water is more valuable than gold because it naturally has the ability to sustain life and unlike many other things, our body craves water every day, water is also something we use everyday and you are very spot on when you said that people not maintaining the pipes and pumps that help deliver water to them and the population, is soul destroying. Not having to carry buckets of water or having to scoop up water from wells in most cases these days, is a highly dignifying advantage of this era, and squandering it or being negligent is very careless and unwise.

        Hahaha so true, too much heat can be extremely uncomfortable and make us sweat alot and become dehydrated, disorientated and not to mention make us actually die. I personally have a high tolerance when it comes to heat but that doesn’t mean I won’t prefer things to be cooler like most people lol. The sun is just like every other natural thing that we have to deal with in the sense that it’s also not perfect. It’s always about finding the right balance — I have not been in existance since the beginning of life on earth, so I am in no position to say exactly what kind of weather pattern is most ideal except to acknowledge the kind of environments we see around us today and take note of the fact that having some moments of rain and other moments of Sun, seems to do a whole lot of good for the environment but too much of either side like the scorchers and the flooders and the freezers situations that you have put into the spotlight, for prolonged periods, are often devastating lol. I think we all agree with you that the fine-tuning is the best case scenario 👌😆😂

        I am glad that the sun had shined in the morning and I hope that for most days moving foward over the course of this year, that you will experience some duration of sunshine ☺️☺️💕. Thank you so much, I really appreciate your good night wishes — my night was excellent 😍😍. I hope that your night will be cozy and very pleasent darling ⭐🌙🤟😘🥰

  2. Timothy Price permalink

    She’s all mixed up. She is beautiful and obviously a talented writer.

    • I found it quite interesting that she served im the French Ministry as well and at such a young age. I think we need more authors in their respective genres relating to in government.
      Yes all mixed up and also courageous to take up the pen she writes in.
      To have all three your books translated as an author is quite a feat. But the the English language is so in demand it makes sense.
      Having an English language book translated into any other language is a huge accomplishment.
      Thank you for reading Timothy.

  3. Good morning, dear Abi. Your writing is so eloquent and lovely, as is this review. Amazingly created, my friend. ♥️♥️

    • Good morning Jeff ❤ 🙏🏼 🌄
      Thank you for your heart-warming comment, thank you for reading.
      It gave me great pleasure exploring her richly textured life story. She has achieved so much at her ‘tender’ age and I believe there are more stories waiting to be released through her.
      Her life is an open book which made my exploration and writing so much easier. Thank you ♥🙂

      • It’s always my pleasure to read you, my dear Abi. ♥️♥️ I can feel there will be more stories too. So inspiring. Have a glorious day, my friend. ❤️🙏

      • Yes, I hope so too, and I hope I can find interesting ones to explore and gather some vital energy and essence too. Same to you my friend, a glorious Sunday♥♥

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