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Book of the week: Adèle by Leila Slimani

Fascinating . . . Adèle has glanced at the covenant of modern womanhood–the idea that you can have it all or should at least die trying–and detonated it.” — The New York Times Book Review

Adèle seems to have it all: a brilliant career as a journalist, a beautiful appartment in Paris, a perfect marriage to surgeon Richard, and a son to adore. Yet, beneath the brilliant veneer, she hides a troubled soul battling with a sex addiction, which leads her to seduce almost all the men she meets, to seek partners on her way to work, and to constantly lead a double-life. As her fantasies spiral out of control,  the situation becomes unsustainable when her husband is injured in a road accident, meaning that Adèle must refrain from the compulsion in order to look after him. 

Slimani's first novel, Adèle is an erotic-thriller who explores the darkest fantasies of a woman on a quest to feel alive: "She smokes a cigarette. Standing in the shower, she wants to scratch herself, to rip her body in two. She bangs her forehead against the wall. She wants someone to grab her and smash her skull into the glass door. As soon as she shuts her eyes she hears the noises: sighs, screams, blows. A naked man panting, a woman coming. She wishes she were just an object in the midst of a horde. She wants to be devoured, sucked, swallowed whole. She wants fingers pinching her breasts, teeth digging into her belly. She wants to be a doll in an ogre's garden."

[A] fierce, uncanny thunderbolt of a book.” — Entertainment Weekly

Adèle is published by Faber & Faber and it is translated by Sam Taylor. 


Leila Slimani was born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, but she left for Paris at the age of 17 to study political science and media studies at the Sciences Po and ESCP Europe. After her graduation she became a journalist for the magazine Jeune Afrique, a position which required her to travel to Tunisia, where she was arrested while reporting on the Arab Spring. 

The first French-Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, for Lullaby, Slimani is the author of five novels, as well as Sexe et Mensonges: La Vie Sexuelle au Maroc ("Sex and Lies: Sex Life in Morocco"), a compilation of her work in Northern Africa and the Maghreb.

She was appointed as French President Macron's personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture, and she often comments on women's and human's rights. 

Sam Taylor is a British novelist and literary translator. Born in 1970 in Nottinghamshire, he began his career as a journalist with The Observer. In 2001, he quit his job and moved to southwest France, where he wrote four novels, and learned French. In 2010, he translated his first novel: Laurent Binet's HHhH, which was shortlisted for three awards, including the 2012 French-American Translation Prize.

He now lives in the United States and has translated over twenty books, including Hubert Mingarelli’s A Meal in Winter and the highly acclaimed graphic novel series The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf. 

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