In a Nutshell:
Sexe et Mensonges (Sex and Lies) is about what it is to be a woman in Morocco today, this isn’t an academic study, but a series of interviews with mostly Moroccan women (some men) about sex, men, family, women, religion and dress codes, a woman’s life right now in Morocco and their real lack of freedom.
Leila Slimani is a Franco-Moroccan writer and journalist. She is also a diplomat in her capacity as the personal representative of Macron to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. She has written two novels, Adèle and Chanson Douce (Lullaby). Chanson Douce (Lullaby) won the Prix Goncourt in 2016.
Sexe et Mensonges (Sex and Lies) was published in 2017 in French; it was translated into English recently. It is a fascinating read. By trade, I am a Spanish and English teacher, I also do teach a bit of French but I am not as confident. It has been a while since I have read a book in French but how I loved reading this book, and in French, learning lots of new vocabulary along the way.
In Morocco, it is illegal to have sex before marriage, out of marriage, and to have sex with someone of the same sex, but people do. It is just hidden, but for those with money, it is achievable: whether that be through renting a French-style apartment, or a hotel room (difficult to book without being married), or by hiding out in a car by the beach, forest or a lake and paying off the police that are patrolling. Although, it may seem like a despairing and depressing read, it is full of optimism, that slowly things are changing.
“Pourtant, il me semble que les Maghrébins sont très bien placés pour aborder des thématiques liées à la douleur sexuelle, à la frustration ou à l’aliénation.”
“Yet I feel that North Africans are well placed to take on themes relating to sexual suffering, frustration and alienation.”
“Les femmes doivent retrouver le moyen de peser sur une culture qui est l’otage des religieux et du patriarcat. En prenant la parole, en se racontant, elles usent d’une des armes les plus puissantes contre la haine et l’hypocrisie généralisée.”
“Women must rediscover ways of imposing their presence in a culture that remains hostage to religious and patriarchal authority. By speaking up, by telling their stories, women employ one of their most potent weapons against widespread hate and hypocrisy: words”
Want to read Sex and Lies? I read Sex and Lies in French, in ebook format. Buy it here in English translation.
Sex and Lies
Written by Leïla Slimani
Translated from the French by Sophie Lewis
20/02/2020, Faber and Faber
#WITMonth for 2021 is curated by Jess Andoh-Thayre
I am 35, from London but currently living in Cambodia. I am married to a diplomat and we have been posted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and now Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Prior to meeting my husband, I had also lived in La Serena, Chile and Madrid, Spain.
I am a French, Spanish and English teacher, translator, avid reader and now blogger. When I am not teaching, reading and blogging, I love catching a brilliant sunset, swimming, cycling and hanging out with my husband and son.
Author: Leïla Slimani
Leïla Slimani is a novelist and journalist. She was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 2016 for her novel Chanson douce (Lullaby/The Perfect Nanny). Her first novel, Dans le jardin de l’ogre, was given the La Mamounia Literary Prize. Sexe et mensonges, has been nominated for the Prix Renaudot. Her latest work, The Country of Others, a family saga based on her own family, has just been published, in English translation.
Translator: Sophie Lewis
Sophie Lewis is a literary editor and translator from French and Portuguese into English. While senior editor at fiction publisher And Other Stories, she edited authors both writing in English and in translation. In 2016 she co-founded Shadow Heroes, a workshop series introducing aspects of translation to secondary school students.