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August 15, 2021 @ 2:00 pm
In the Country of Others: An Afternoon with Leila Slimani and Diana Abu-Jaber
Books & Books and Miami Book Fair present…
An Afternoon with Leila Slimani
In conversation with Diana Abu-Jaber
(Penguin Books, $26)
Sunday, August 15, 2 PM ET
LIVE via Crowdcast
The award-winning, #1 internationally bestselling new novel by the author of The Perfect Nanny, about a woman in an interracial marriage whose fierce desire for autonomy parallels her adopted country’s fight for independence.
The world of men is just like the world of botany. In the end, one species dominates another. One day, the orange will win out over the lemon, or vice versa, and the tree will once again produce fruit that people can eat.
In her first new novel since The Perfect Nanny launched her onto the world stage and won her acclaim for her “devastatingly perceptive character studies” (The New York Times Book Review), Leila Slimani draws on her own family’s inspiring story for the first volume in a planned trilogy about race, resilience, and women’s empowerment.
Mathilde, a spirited young Frenchwoman, falls in love with Amine, a handsome Moroccan soldier in the French army during World War II. After the war, the couple settles in Morocco. While Amine tries to cultivate his family farm’s rocky terrain, Mathilde feels her vitality sapped by the isolation, the harsh climate, the lack of money, and the mistrust she inspires as a foreigner. Left increasingly alone to raise her two children in a world whose rules she does not understand, and with her daughter taunted at school by rich French girls for her secondhand clothes and unruly hair, Mathilde goes from being reduced to a farmer’s wife to defying the country’s chauvinism and repressive social codes by offering medical services to the rural population.
As tensions mount between the Moroccans and the French colonists, Amine finds himself caught in the crossfire: in solidarity with his Moroccan workers yet also a landowner, despised by the French yet married to a Frenchwoman, and proud of his wife’s resolve but ashamed by her refusal to be subjugated. All of them live in the country of others–especially the women, forced to live in the land of men–and with this novel, Leila Slimani issues the first salvo in their emancipation.
About the Author:
Leila Slimani is the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny, one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, and Adèle, for which she won the La Mamounia Prize. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she spearheaded a campaign–for which she won the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for women’s freedom–to help Moroccan women speak out, as self-declared outlaws, against their country’s “unfair and obsolete laws.” She is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture and was ranked #2 on Vanity Fair France’s annual list of The Fifty Most Influential French People in the World. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she now lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.
About the Moderator:
Diana Abu-Jaber often writes about the intersection of family and cultural identity. Her most recent novel, Silverworld, a fantasy with an Arab-American girl at its heart, was published last spring from Crown Books / Random House. Her memoir, Life Without A Recipe, was described by Ruth Reichl as “bold and luscious.” The Language of Baklava, her first memoir has been published in many languages and taught around the world. Her novel, Birds Of Paradise, won the Arab-American National Book Award. Her other novels include, Origin; Crescent, and Arabian Jazz. Fencing With the King, a novel of Middle Eastern intrigue and suspense, will be published in 2022 from W.W. Norton. Diana teaches at Portland State University and lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.