I just finished reading Leila Marouane’s “The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris.” I wish I could say I learned something. It is a stupid little novel. It reveals nothing, took me no where and didn’t cause me to reflect on a single issue worth dwelling more than two seconds on. Perhaps in French it offers up a critical commentary of the frightening delusions that can overtake the mind of an unmarried religious conservative with a highly successful career and living in a seductive city.
A man torn between his determination to lose his virginity at 40 (something) but haunted by an Islamic tradition he is determined to escape. But where is the tension? Will the illusion of the modern city give way to the lofty vision of the Islamic spiritual and intellectual tradition or will the half-baked narrative of what passes for Western Islam with all its Salafist/Wahabi predilections fall at the alter of sex?
I suspect Marouane’s sex obsessed man in Paris and Boualem Sansal’s novel “The German Mujahid” — are attempts to capitalize on the lucrative market for sensational works of fiction on all topics pertaining to Islamic extremism. The Al-Qaeda brand after all is in high demand. I think maybe I should complete Roy Moxham “A Brief History of Tea” before starting Sansal’s fictional journey which promises, the cover reads, to be “the first Arab novel to confront the Holocaust.”