The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris by Leila Marouane

A hilarious French import.

Reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru
Photograph: Photo: Peter Ardito

At the center of this Algerian author’s newly translated novel is Mohamed Ben Mokhtar, a pious, 40-year-old virgin who lives outside Paris with his nagging mother. One day Mokhtar decides he’s had enough: He shaves his beard and acquires a “Frenchified” name and, finally, his own apartment.

Although aspects of this elliptical story may leave you scratching your head (thanks to its unreliable narrator), Marouane’s crisp writing entertains throughout. Mokhtar vows to bed scores of women, but will his sense of duty to his mother triumph over libido? And just how much are we willing to sacrifice for the people we love?

Originally published in the June 2010 issue of More.

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