Leïla Slimani on her shocking bestseller, Lullaby: 'Who can really say they know their nanny?'

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Her murderous nanny thriller gripped France, winning its top literary prize and the attention of President Macron. With Lullaby now out in English, the author shares her thoughts on motherhood, #MeToo and being a Muslim in France

“The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds,” so begins Lullaby. First we had the murderous perfect wife, Gone Girl, in 2012, then the murderous perfect husband, The Girl on the Train, in 2015, and now the murderous “perfect nanny” – the US title for the Goncourt-winning French bestseller, published in the States and the UK this month. Lullaby is ménage à trois as domestic noir; the relationship, as intimate and intense as any affair, between a couple and their nanny. It was “like love at first sight”, says Myriam, the mother, of their first meeting. Until, like a “wounded lover”, the nanny stabs the two children in the bath, before slitting her own throat. This is not a spoiler: it’s all there in the devastating opening pages.

“I tried to use all my deepest fears and all my nightmares: losing my children, living with someone I think I know, but actually I don’t know her at all,” says Leïla Slimani, who has a six-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter (and, yes, a nanny). “So at the same time as it was frightening it was also a relief because I could give all my anxiety to my reader, to you!” she laughs disarmingly.

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