Romance Languages and Literatures

En tête-à-tête: Leila Slimani - "Adèle" - Khalid Lyamlahy

WhenFebruary 26, 2019 06:00 PM - 07:00 PM
WhereSeminary Co-op Bookstore
Contact InformationSeminary Co-op Bookstore
DescriptionLeila Slimani discusses "Adèle." She will be joined in conversation by Khalid Lyamlahy. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

About the book: Penguin Books is proud to share Slimani’s award-winning first novel, "Adèle" (Penguin Books * A Penguin Original * 1/15/19), with American readers for the first time. Slimani, an “astute observer of power politics in the home” (John Freeman, The Boston Globe), has created a devastating portrait of a woman driven by obsession, desperate to fill a sense of emptiness. Like in "The Perfect Nanny," she explores the messy realities beneath our public faces, again through the eyes of a young mother.

The title character, a woman in her mid-thirties, has an enviable life in Paris. “As a wife and a mother,” Slimani writes, “she is haloed with a respectability that no one can take away from her.” Adèle loves her son and her husband, although she feels no desire for him and most days struggles to make conversation with him. But inside she finds “her life small, shabby, lacking in grandeur.” She is driven by a desire for oblivion that she believes she can achieve only through sex—an experience of total adoration and sublimation, of being “a doll in an ogre’s garden” (the title of the French edition translates as In the Ogre’s Garden). She pursues this fleeting relief knowing the danger it poses to her public façade; at any moment she could be exposed, her life shattered. Still, she picks up men—her boss, her friend’s lover, strangers on the street—then quickly discards them, putting herself in increasingly risky situations, searching for a deeper oblivion. In the aftermath of a shocking reckoning between Adèle and her husband, the power dynamics of their relationship transform into a disturbing game that exposes our basest human motivations.

About the author: Leila Slimani is the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny. 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. Leila Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, which she won for The Perfect Nanny. Her first novel, Adèle, won the La Mamounia Prize for the best book by a Moroccan author written in French. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she now lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.

About the interlocutor: Also a native of Rabat, Khalid Lyamlahy is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. In January 2019, he joined the University of Chicago where he currently teaches North African literature. Besides his academic work, he is a regular contributor to literary journals and the author of a first novel, Un Roman Étranger, published in 2017 in Paris.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Discussions, Readings, Arts
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