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Faber has acquired The Country of Others, the latest novel from French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani, the international bestselling author of Lullaby and Adèle. A bestseller in France, The Country of Others is set between the final years of the Second World War and 1956, when Morocco gained independence from France. It is inspired in part by the story of Slimani’s grandparents, and is the first in a trilogy. Faber Associate Publisher Louisa Joyner acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Anne-Solange Noble at Gallimard. Faber will publish on 5 August 2021.
The publisher’s synopsis reads: ‘Alsace 1944. Mathilde finds herself falling deeply in love with Amine Belhaj, a Moroccan soldier billeted in her town fighting for the French. After the Liberation, Mathilde leaves her country to follow her new husband to Morocco. But life here is unrecognisable to this brave and passionate young woman.
Suffocated by the heat of the Moroccan climate, by her loneliness on the farm, by the mistrust she inspires as a foreigner and by their lack of money, Mathilde grows restless.
‘As violence broods and Morocco’s own struggle for independence grows daily, Mathilde and Amine’s refusal to take sides sees them and their family at odds with their own desire for freedom. How can Mathilde – a woman whose life is dominated by the decisions of men – hold her family together in a world that is being torn apart?’
Joyner said: ‘Leïla’s new novel is signature Slimani – steeped in the exquisite spareness of her prose with an aching depth of characterisation – it also marks an exciting and significant change of direction for this internationally acclaimed writer. This trilogy explores and engages with colonialism and the ways in which women in particular find themselves othered, politically, culturally and historically. It’s a major work of fiction and I am incredibly proud we’re publishing it here in the UK.”
Slimani said: “I am delighted that Faber will publish The Country of Others. Like many people of mixed race I often felt like an outsider, like I lived in the country of others. I wanted to understand where this feeling came from – to explore my origins and question my roots: French and Moroccan, from here and elsewhere.’
Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she won for Lullaby. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French President Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.