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This is the story of Fatima, who became Sophie. Fatima lives in a village attached to a small town on the edge of the desert that is controlled by extremists who impose their laws. Fatima’s family take the side of the armed men and she works with her mother in their service. After her father dies in a suicide bombing, Fatima marries a young unemployed failure of a man who ends up believing he can only obtain symbolic value in society by carrying out a suicide bombing, which will turn him from a failure into a hero. He will then enter Paradise, where seventy dark-eyed virgins will be awaiting him. Following his death the armed men decide to marry Fatima to one of them. She escapes to Europe via a people trafficker who rapes her on the way. She reaches Brussels, throws off her niqab, and turns from Fatima into Sophie. She has two personalities though: Fatima who works in the morning for a cleaning company, and Sophie, the European girl who goes out to bars every night and takes a handsome boy back to her flat. This is a form of revenge against her dead husband, who told her his reason for carrying out a suicide bombing was the seventy virgins he would have in Paradise. She decides to screw seventy guys in Europe. But by chance she falls in love with Adrian, a Scandinavian guy who works as an aviation engineer. She later discovers he has Lebanese Christian roots. His father’s entire family were killed during the civil war, and the father took revenge by killing a group of Palestinians at a Christian checkpoint. The father felt guilty, however, and escaped to Norway in an attempt to forget. As he lay dying he confessed to his son, and Adrian returned to Lebanon to marry one of the daughters of his father’s victims.

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Sophie is involved in a complicated relationship with Adrian. She often travels with him, but finds out that he is married with two daughters. Initially, she accepts the situation, but then gets angry with him. She wanted him all for herself. One day they quarrel before going to a party they are invited to. Adrian storms off and is involved in a car accident. Over the ten days before he dies in hospital, Sophie sits beside him and tells him her whole life. Pho t o

BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015 11

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