After five 17 Leila Slimani books including the Goncourt novel, he has decided to tell the story of his family Why has it taken so long to write The Country of Others.
That was something he had pending. For me the story of my grandparents, which is the one I tell in this first book, was perfect novel material.
My grandmother was a heavyset blonde Alsatian with beautiful green eyes, who fell in love with my Moroccan grandfather, a rather thin and small 17 Leila guy, who fought with the French troops during the Second World War. She decided to marry and did not think twice, to the horror of her parents, and move with my grandfather to Meknes.
My grandmother marked me deeply was fascinating and made a great impression on everyone who knew her. She was very free, very provocative because she laughed openly and with ideas that did not fit the time could not bear to be treated as inferior beings and she was very generous. He also had a great sense of justice, it hurt him deeply that people lived in misery or did not have the education they deserved.
Yes, because when he arrived he realized that the women of my father’s family did not speak in public, did not go out into the streets and needed authorization for everything. Besides, my grandfather had boasted of being freer than he really was when he returned to Meknes.
She had a bad time there, but she would not have done better in France, because then French and Moroccan societies were not so different when it came to valuing women’s rights. And she, although she came to speak Arabic perfectly, did not find her place in either of the two countries. It was a terrible shock because no one understood his wishes for freedom.
Yes, because all the characters live in each other’s country. The indigenous people, in a land subdued by the colonizers and the French, of course, in a country that is not theirs. But there is also another meaning that interests me even more.
And the thing is that for women, all countries also belong to others, to the men who impose their rules. In the case of Morocco, women suffered a double 17 Leila because it is imposed on them how they should live and if you have the right to behave in one way or another. The novel points out that the woman’s body must be decolonized because it continues to be colonized by men, even when the official decolonization ends.
I did not want to build a historical thesis, but to tell the lives of some people. For my grandmother and my mother, the colonizers were not perceived as the bad guys in history. Many times they were poor people who moved there to earn a living. My grandmother, who ended up mimicking the Arabs, was able to relate terrible aspects of racism and at the same time remember extraordinary French doctors and teachers. I think the novels are to be situated in a range of gray between black and white.