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The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris

Leila Marouane | Translated by Alison Anderson

Our hero is a handsome, wealthy, Parisian bank manager. Born in Maghreb, his life was once devoted to Sundays with his mother, family reunions, pious sobriety, and fervent Islamism. But he’s through with all that. The time has come for him to find a suitable apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the trendiest neighborhood in Paris. The time has come for aperitifs at the Deux Magots and the Café de Flore, for shopping sprees at the most exlusive boutiques in Paris, and for a sex life free of inhibitions and prohibitions! Thus his adventures begin. Unfortunately for him, however, his story is told through the voice of an unsympathetic female narrator who seems more interested in creating an all-female gallery that is representative of the modern woman than in showing our hero the attention he feels he deserves.The results are most amusing. But this exhilarating novel about tradition and modernity, obligation and emancipation, also speaks to what it means to live in a heterogeneous society where cultures and ideologies often clash. With this portrait of a man balanced between two cultures—liberated and successful but nonetheless conditioned by religion, family, and an overbearing mother—Leïla Marouane establishes herself as an original and talented chronicler of modern man’s inhibitions and taboos.

Leïla Marouane was born in Algeria in 1960 and has lived and worked in Paris since 1990. In addition to The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris, she is the author of four novels and one collection of short stories. In 2004, she was awarded the Liberatur Prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and in 2006 the prestigious Prix Jean-Claude Izzo for her novel, La Jeune Fille et la mère.

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