Sex and Lies review: testimonies from women in Morocco
Leila Slimani bravely portrays accounts of extra-marital sex punishable by law
French-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani: her book demonstrates the ways in which women’s bodies are the battleground for colonial and cultural tensions. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty
What did it take for a book like Sex and Lies to get to me? First, its author had to be born. (That’s obvious, but let’s start there.) Leïla Slimani was born in Morocco. She grew up in Rabat and was raised Muslim. At 17, she moved to Paris to study political science, then worked as a journalist with Jeune Afrique. Sex and Lies is not a memoir, but Slimani’s autobiographical details are noteworthy; who she is, recording this story.
Next, she had to become a writer. This is relevant in terms of craft, but also because it was on a tour for her book, Adèle, that Sex and Lies began to take form. Women came to her. They told her their stories. “Novels have a magical way of forging a very intimate connection between writers and their readers, of toppling the barriers of shame and mistrust,” she notes.