Book of the Month – August 2021

The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani

Our August choice is The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani

The world of men is just like the world of botany. In the end, one species dominates another. One day, the orange will win out over the lemon, or vice versa, and the tree will once again produce fruit that people can eat...

The bestselling author of Lullaby and Adele returns with a novel about a woman in an interracial marriage whose fierce desire for autonomy parallels her adopted country’s fight for independence.

Alsace, 1944. Mathilde finds herself falling deeply in love with Amine Belhaj, a Moroccan soldier billeted in her town fighting for the French. After the Liberation, Mathilde leaves her country to follow her new husband to Morocco. But life here is unrecognisable to this brave and passionate young woman. Suffocated by the heat of the Moroccan climate, by her loneliness on the farm, by the mistrust she inspires as a foreigner and by their lack of money, Mathilde grows restless.

As violence broods and Morocco's own struggle for independence grows daily, Mathilde and Amine's refusal to take sides sees them and their family at odds with their own desire for freedom. How can Mathilde - a woman whose life is dominated by the decisions of men - hold her family together in a world that is being torn apart?

BOOK OF THE MONTH LIVE Q&A WITH LEÏLA SLIMANI WILL TAKE PLACE ON TUESDAY 17 AUGUST 2021, 7PM

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Read it? Loved it? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #HBOTM.

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Further reading

Vogue - Author Leïla Slimani Invites Vogue Into Her Literary World

The Times - Author Leïla Slimani on the feminist fight, breaking taboos and the dark side of motherhood 

About the author

Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she won for Lullaby. 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. Slimani represented France in the Hay Festival Europa28 project last year. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we love and think holds particular resonance today. This is our chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HBOTM and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

Each month we'll have a free digital event with the author for you to ask them questions and explore their ideas further.

If you'd like to recommend a book for consideration, please share on social media using #HBOTM.

Happy reading!