The Last One by Fatima Daas review – a hypnotic debut

Sabrina Mahfouz in The Guardian:

The Last One is French-Algerian writer Fatima Daas’s autobiographical debut novel, translated beautifully into English by Lara Vergnaud. Fatima Daas is both the pseudonym of the author and the name of the narrator in this hypnotising, lyrical book. Fatima lives in the majority-Muslim Parisian banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois, with her parents and sisters, who were all born in Algeria. She’s the only one born in France, the youngest child in the family; she is “the last one”.

Almost all of the numerous chapters, some less than a page, start with an iteration of “My name is Fatima Daas”, followed by a couple of words, or a few sentences, expanding on aspects of her identity or lineage. This rhythmic invocation is powerful, though occasionally I felt it contributed to an impression of explaining details of her existence specifically for a non-Muslim readership. For me, this is always unnecessary in a work of fiction, but seemed especially so considering the intimate specificity of Fatima’s world.

More here.