Fiction Début of the Year

Winner: Fiction Début of the Year

Lullaby by Leila Slimani


Lelia Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor

Simon & Schuster

“Beautifully written”... “dark and nuanced”... “confident and accomplished”: the judges of the British Book Awards were as captivated by Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby as critics and the 170,000 people who bought it in its various formats in 2018.

A little-known début author in translation didn’t seem the most promising acquisition for Faber & Faber in commercial terms. But the claustrophobic tension and mounting dread—brilliantly preserved by Sam Taylor’s sensitive translation—engrossed retailers, reviewers and readers in turn.

This was a book that traversed genres and that hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial fiction. Pitched at first into psychological thriller territory as the French Gone Girl, it appealed to horror and literary fans alike, and seemed to capture the zeitgeist of middle-class parental angst, without being exploitative or cynical. Faber published it with great passion, with packaging and promotion that appealed to a wide range of readers and an energetic publicity campaign. For a début author Slimani proved to be a superb promoter too, and has laid the foundations for potentially even greater sales for future titles.