By Seija Rankin
February 11, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: Catherine Helie

Where does one go after The Perfect Nanny? To a not-so-perfect marriage.

French-Moroccan author Leila Slimani will return this summer with her first new novel since her groundbreaking 2016 thriller, which published in the U.S. in 2018 and was loosely based on a famous case of infanticide.

In the Country of Others is the first volume of a planned trilogy; this time around Slimani draws inspiration from her own family history to build a story of an interracial marriage during the Second World War.

"In the Country of Others is centered around a couple, Amine and Mathilde," Slimani says in a statement to EW. "He is Moroccan; she is French. He is small, silent, swarthy; she is tall, blond, adventurous. They marry in 1945 and move to a Morocco under French colonization, marked by racism and the rejection of interracial marriages."

EW is exclusively revealing the cover for the novel — due out Aug. 10 — which features a peculiar fruit inspired by a passage in the book that compares men and botany ("In the end, one species dominates another").

Credit: Penguin

"One day Amine, who is a farmer, decides to graft a branch of a lemon tree onto an orange tree, and his daughter, little Aicha, will give this tree the name 'lemange,'" Slimani explains. "The lemange represents Aicha, the half-breed child, neither quite lemon nor quite orange. It also represents Amine and Mathilde, misunderstood and subject to the hostile glances of others. The fruit of the lemange is not edible, and has a bitter taste."

In the novel, as Amine works tirelessly on the family's land, Mathilde finds herself more and more isolated and eventually begins to defy her new country's repressive gender norms. She works as a medic, which simultaneously brings her husband private pride and public shame, and their two cultures begin to clash more and more. Slimani notes this theme as central to her book's cover.

"We can see that this strange fruit is not right — the orange color is dripping," she says. "How can you be two things at once? Are you obliged to choose one side over the other?"

In the Company of Others is available for preorder now. Stay tuned to EW for more about the book.

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