Author Leila Slimani on Her New Book “Adele”

French-Moroccan author Leila Slimani is a literary superstar in France, and her recent book “The Perfect Nanny” was a publishing sensation. Now, her first book “Adele” is finally being released in English for the first time. She joined Christiane in London to discuss her work and the rise of populism and extremism in France and Europe more widely.

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LEILA SLIMANI: And very often, the women who want more are punished for wanting more. And this woman, she wants more. She wants excitement. She wants desires. She wants passion. But at the same time, she knows that society have given her very much because she’s married to a doctor. She has a child. She is supposed to be satisfied. So she feels guilty for not being satisfied. And she’s looking to fill this void with sex. But as you said, it could be with drugs or it could be with alcohol or even with gambling, I don’t know.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But it’s interesting because it’s not just that she wants more. She wants passion and excitement and all that. I mean she goes and pretty much has sex with anybody she sees. I mean people she picks up in the metro, in the subway, anyone.

SLIMANI: Yes, exactly. And that’s why I was very interested in the mechanism of addiction. There’s a book I really love. It’s “The Gambler” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. And in this book, he describes very well the mechanism of addiction. You want something and at the same time, you know that this thing is going to destroy you and you can’t help it. So you [13:45:00] take this thing and then you hate yourself for taking in and it never ends. And it’s love at first and hatred and I wanted also to describe that.

AMANPOUR: And yet, you would think that it might disrupt her marriage. Her husband would walk out. In fact, he doesn’t. How does he react, the husband?

SLIMANI: That was the interesting part for me, the love story. And I was asking myself the question, can you forgive something like that? Is it possible to forgive someone who lied to you for so many years and who cheated on you? And I think that the husband is fascinated by his wife because he doesn’t understand her because she’s a mystery. And he would like to control her but he knows that it’s impossible. And that’s why he wants to keep her and he tells her, “You have a disease. And I’m a doctor. I’m going to cure this disease and I’m going to help you. You’re going to heal.” But the truth is it’s not a disease. It would be too easy to say that it’s only a disease. It’s something else.

AMANPOUR: Spoiler alert. Do they stay together?

SLIMANI: You have to read it.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Spike Lee about his film “BlacKkKlansman,” his career and the racist controversies surrounding Virginia politics and Liam Neeson. Author Leila Slimani discusses her new book and the rise of populism and extremism in France. Michel Martin speaks with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon about Brexit.