Sex and Lies True Stories of Women’s Intimate Lives in the Arab World by Leila Slimani

Can the importance of a story be outweighed by the method it is told? How much stock do we put in stories themselves verse the artistry they’re told. Normally, I would weigh each portion equally. Without a good story, no one would care enough to read on and without a good writer, no one would make it through the pages. But this book leaves me wondering if a good story is enough?

Let me preface this thought process with some information and acknowledgements. The first being, I recognize and understand why Leila Slimani had to write these stories in a colloquial tone. Not only does it maintain the integrity of the story as it was originally told and how Slimani first heard it, but it also allowed for some distance between the context and the consumer. As much as I enjoyed learning more historical and social context of another country, this book’s main purpose was to breach the almost-sexual-liberation in Morocco. It was not to educate me, it was to spread through more conservative or censored communities. With more distance and less detail, the book has a greater chance to be widely-circulated and it is less likely to be completely censored.

More to that thought, and Slimani’s own words, her first book, Adéle, was widely-enjoyed in Morocco because of the salacious material. Although it was publicly disapproved of, the book was devoured by conservative and liberal communities. It probably bridged more gaps as a disapproving text than an approving one. So why write this one with the censorships in mind?

So why not go all the way with literary techniques and carefully-crafted descriptions, bring the reader further into the binds of Morocco’s world? Allow the situation to personify and empathize audience members one reader at a time, and for that reason, although I enjoyed the education, I found the writing to be lacking.

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