For middle class working mothers, hiring a baby sitter is a necessity. Unfortunately, this requirement sometimes leads to tragedy. On March 1, 2018, the Krim trial began—the case that inspired French writer Leila Slimani’s crime novel “Lullaby.”
The international best-selling novel has already been translated into 18 languages and will be translated into 17 more. Its U.S. title is “The Perfect Nanny,” and it was originally published in France under the title “Chanson Douce.”
The Krim Case and “Lullaby”
In the terrible, real-life story (the Krim case) that inspired the book, a deranged nanny stabbed two young children in 2012. The nanny in the Krim case is a migrant from the Dominican Republic. In Slimani’s book, the nanny is local and one of her employers is an immigrant.
The Krims’ former nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, was mentally ill but had not been treated. The psychiatrist testifying in the case said Ortega didn’t tell the doctor, who had treated her in the past for depression and anxiety, about the voices she heard in her head because she didn’t want people to think she was crazy.
The nanny in Slimani’s book had a damaged past, had found refuge in her employers’ home-life, and feared having to leave after the children grew up. Like Ortega, she first slit the two children’s throats in the bathtub and then slit her own throat in an attempted suicide.
The children’s mother’s first name in the novel is Myriam. The fictional nanny’s name is Louise after another murderous nanny, Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the U.S. in 1997.
While the former Krim nanny’s trial will reveal whether derangement was the cause for the murder, Slimani’s book explores the motivations of the murderer. The novel is a psychological examination of the killer and other germane issues.
Raising Other Issues
Lelia Slimani raises many important questions in her novel. Can parents trust a nanny? Can parents ever really know their nanny? Should a mother turn her children over to a stranger in favor of a career? The characters’ social, class, and ethnic differences in “Lullaby” touch on many current societal issues.
The contradictions of motherhood, including its demands and sometimes suffocating feelings, are also raised in the book. As a young mother who employs a nanny and was brought up by a nanny herself, the author has an intimate association with the context of employing child caretakers.
The swift popularity of Lelia Slimani’s “Lullaby” indicates that it has touched a nerve with many people in multiple countries. In France and the U.S., movie versions will introduce even more people to the details of Slimani’s book and the Krim case.
The visionary science fiction and fantasy writer, poet, and translator Ursula Le Guin passed away on January 22, 2018. Her extensive fan base among readers and writers, which continues to grow, has reason to mourn being denied the continued gifts of her creative imagination and perceptive intelligence.
An Innovator Who Moved Readers
Le Guin was a trendsetting female author who entered the mostly male-dominated genres of science fiction and fantasy. She added a new range and depth to the formerly masculine-oriented worlds of these genres. In the process, she broadened the appeal and the audience of science fiction and fantasy by discussing human and societal issues through her characters and their worlds.
Unsurprisingly, her work has been translated into 40 languages. An Indian fan, Arnab Chakraborty, expressed eloquently why she will be missed and how reading Ursula K Le Guin changed Chakraborty’s expectations of science-fiction (and dragons).
Chakraborty said as a young reader, “There was a lilt and rhythm to her words, a cadence to her sentences that made you choke with emotions you didn’t even know you had at 10.” This praise explains what writer Neil Gaiman meant when he said Le Guin’s words were “written on his soul.”
A Prolific Writer of Depth and Imagination
Le Guin wrote poetry books, children’s literature, science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels. She also delved into the nonfiction and realistic fiction genres. Among her English translations was the “Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching,” her own rendition of this ancient classic that appears to have influenced her work. She also translated four other books.
A common feature of her work is the inclusion of thought-provoking themes that grab readers’ attention, make them think, and leave a memorable impression with them. Her characters combatted dragons and other enemies without resorting to macho methods. She introduced readers to a distinctive style which encouraged readers to question stereotypes and boosted the critical thinking capacities of readers of all ages.
The Prosaic Reason for Becoming a Science Fiction Writer
In an interview in 1989 she revealed that she began writing science fiction because it was a genre in which she knew she could sell. She is best known for her “Earthsea” and “The Left Hand of Darkness” series.
Le Guin’s fiction challenged readers of all ages to consider the moral issues her protagonists dealt with. This started with her young adult novel, “The Wizard of Earthsea,” where Ged the wizard has to fight his own creation, learn the hard way that one can create something bad, and take responsibility for that by ending its destructive capacity. Read Le Guin to experience writing with depth and beauty.
In crime fiction, location is as important as the plot to make the characters and setting more real for readers. It is rooted in a particular place and time. Most often, crime novels are set in cities; some cities inspire more crime writers than others because of their grit. Belt Publishing’s City Anthologies reveal the grit in each city subject.
The Cities in the Anthology Series
These anthologies cover cities that tend to be less written about and so are venues for creating a writer’s distinctive brand setting. So far, the City Anthologies’ subjects are Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Youngstown in Ohio; Detroit and Flint in Michigan; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.
The City Anthologies
The Akron Anthology
This anthology contains 22 contributed essays. Like every volume in this series, the contents include the individual viewpoints of the diverse people who have lived in the city.
The Cincinnati Anthology
This book contains the viewpoints of natives from the many walks of life in the Queen City. Like others in the series, this one helps residents and outsiders get to know the different aspects of the city from the personal viewpoints of local contributors.
Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology
2nd edition ISBN: 978-0985944162
This is the book that started it all. Read to see why it inspired a growing collection of city anthologies.
Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology
Youngstown has one of the grittiest environments in a state full of gritty Rust Belt cities. Here, locals share the moments that define their city and their experiences with it.
A Detroit Anthology
This book was a Michigan Notable Book of 2015. According to an Ebony Magazine review, it contains an “ethnic array of voices that truly shows the facets of Detroit life.”
Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology
Flint’s water crisis made national headlines. In this collection readers learn more about the city. Like all cities, Flint is imperfect but has devoted residents. The title of the collection reveals the general gist of what is reflected in the contents.
The Pittsburgh Anthology
This anthology has almost 40 contributing participants. The Pittsburgh collection’s diverse contributions reveal the contradictions in this picturesque city that has had many ups and downs.
Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology
This anthology covers decades of history, events, and experiences with the contributions of 65 people. According to the Buffalo News review of its contents, it is an essential book about the city.
Writers looking for the right setting for their gripping crime fiction can begin with the cities covered in the City Anthologies. They will get a feel for any or all of the cities, through the eyes of those who know their cities intimately in their own way.