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Win a signed copy of The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani!

Leïla Slimani is the author of Adèle, Sex and Lies and Lullaby, which made Slimani the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. 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.

Read our quick-fire Q&A with Leïla Slimani and find out how to win a signed copy of her latest book, The Country of Others!

What research did you do for the book?

I interviewed my mother, my aunts, old cousins and some friends of my grandparents. I read a lot of academic books about colonisation in Morocco and I found diaries and letters of ordinary people, that helped me a lot. And of course, I studied a lot of photographs from the 1950s. I am very much inspired by images.

Why do you think you became a writer?

To make myself interesting.

How important is setting or location for your writing?

I just need to be in a small and quiet room. That’s all that matters.

How much of your writing is based on your personal experiences?

All of it, none of it… impossible to say!

Name a book that changed your outlook on life forever?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

If you were not able to write, how would you fill that time?

By drinking alcohol.

Describe the happiest day of your life?

The day I signed my first publishing contract with Gallimard.

Do you live where you write?

Yes.

Which profession do you look at and think: “I’d love to be able to do that job”?

Doctor.

What is your favourite book of the year so far, and where were you when you read it?

Le Colibri (The Hummingbird) by Sandro Veronesi.

What’s your signature dish?

Pasta and tomato sauce.

Five significant musicians in your life?

Chopin, Bob Marley, Barbara, Nina Simone, Fairouz.

Which three words do you hope your friends would describe you with, and which words would they actually describe you with?

Classy, generous, quiet. Or, Crazy, excessive, funny.

What makes you cry?

Everything. I cry all the time.

You can only watch five films or TV shows for the rest of your life. What are they?

Friends, Annie Hall, 1900, Nous nous sommes tant aimés (We All Loved Each Other So Much), César et Rosalie, Pretty Woman.

What is your aim as a writer?

To have fun.

Where is your favourite place in Paris?

The Jardin des Tuileries (The Tuileries Garden).

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates.

What is your earliest memory of visiting a library?

I was quite old. Maybe 19 and it was the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève in Paris.

What is the book you recommend most often to your friends?

Vie et Destin (Life and Fate) by Vassili Grossman.

If you could live one day in the life of a character from a book you have read, who would it be?

I would be Marylin Monroe in Blonde.

Win a signed copy of The Country of Others

1944. After the Liberation, Mathilde leaves France to join her husband in Morocco. But life here is unrecognisable to this brave and passionate young woman. Her life is now that of a farmer’s wife – with all the sacrifices and vexations that brings. Suffocated by the heat, by her loneliness on the farm and by the mistrust she inspires as a foreigner, Mathilde grows increasingly restless. As Morocco’s struggle for independence intensifies, Mathilde and her husband find themselves caught in the crossfire.

To win a signed copy of The Country of Others, email competitions@readingagency.org.uk with the subject line ‘I want to win The Country of Others’. Entries close at 23:59 on Tuesday 7 June. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. Multiple entries will be discounted. This competition is open to UK residents only.

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