cover image The Last One

The Last One

Fatima Daas, trans. from the French by Lara Vergnaud. Other Press, $15.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-63542-184-2

French writer Daas debuts with a frank and fervent work of autofiction about a woman’s attempts at integrating her clashing religion and sexuality. Fatima Daas is the youngest daughter in her Muslim Algerian family, the only one born in France. The dizzying timeline follows Fatima from her early childhood in the 1990s when she develops a severe case of asthma, through middle school when she’s an androgynous “misfit” and dating boys in high school in order to fit in, to her late 20s when she falls in love for the first time, with a woman named Nina. As a consequence of growing up in a family where speaking of love and sexuality are taboo, Fatima doesn’t know how to articulate her feelings for Nina. While the author’s terse style sometimes leaves little room for reflection (“After my birth, my mother has a heart attack, at thirty. I blame myself for being born”), Fatima’s sustained ambivalence is realistically conveyed through repetitions of “My name is Fatima,” followed by descriptive passages such as, “a girl who isn’t really a girl, who isn’t Algerian or French, who isn’t from Clichy or Paris, a Muslim I think, but not a good Muslim, a lesbian whose homophobia is built into her.” Overall, it’s a provocative exercise. (Nov.)