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Sep 16, 2021


Award-winning writer and journalist, Leïla Slimani, spoke to me about the challenges of writing historical fiction, impostor syndrome, and what it's like to live In the Country of Others.

“Imagination is the strongest, most powerful human capability. It allows everything: you can move in time, in space, create worlds. That’s what I look for when I write, and when I read, too.” – Leïla Slimani

Leïla is the French-Moroccan author of the award-winning, #1 internationally bestselling novel The Perfect Nanny – a New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of the Year – for which she became the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt.

Her latest novel, In the Country of Others (first in a planned trilogy about how women’s lives change over three generations), was named a Best Book of the Summer by Vogue, E Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Town & Country, Observer, The Millions, and Parade.

Salman Rushdie said of the book, “The world of this novel—Morocco after World War II, leading up to the revolt against French colonialism—is beautifully created.... An exceptional, powerful novel from this justly celebrated writer,” and The New York Times Book Review wrote, "In the Country of Others . . . lays bare women’s intimate, lacerating experience of war and its consequent trauma.”

Leila is also an award-winning journalist and outspoken commentator on women’s and human rights, and a French diplomat to French president Emmanuel Macron for the promotion of the French language and culture.

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In this file Leïla Slimani and I discussed:

  • Giving voices to the voiceless and time traveling in your work
  • Racial inequality and the global taboos surrounding the history of colonization
  • The importance of coffee and cigarettes to the creative process
  • A writer's guilt, the perils of success...
  • And why writers just need a good glass of (French) red wine

Show Notes: