Leila Slimani's tongue in cheek warning about her best-selling novel Lullaby, kicked off a fascinating discussion about Leila's aversion to judging people by an element of their character or behaviour, "People are too complex to be simply put in one box or another". That complexity is reflected in her main characters in both Lullaby and her latest novel, Adele. Both are created to reflect humanity, a person who we as the reader, can find something to identify with even if, as is the case, the characters are unlikeable. Leila wants to be unsettling, to challenge people by creating deeply compassionate portraits of people, both adults and, importantly, children, that the reader can relate to even when being similatanously repulsed.
Both novels reflect Leila's experience of sexual politics growing up in Morocco where sex outside of marriage is still punishable by imprisonment and how woman are often forced to choose between security or being free. Most recently, Leila toured Morocco interviewing women about their experiences of being a woman and she published a manifesto based on those interviews. Essentially saying, "I'm an outlaw, I'm tired of the hypocrisy, I have sex outside of marriage, I have the freedom to say both yes and no", the manifesto has inspired over 20,000 Moroccan woman publicly to declare that they are outlaws also.
The interviewer, Sophie Hughes, finished the discussion by asking Leila why she hadn't returned to live in Morocco; Leila's answer - "I couldn't live in Morocco because of the stifling oppression of religion - all I want to do is sit on a terrace, smoke a cigarette and drink beer and I can't do any of that in Morocco".