The narrative is punctuated with flashbacks to the main character’s childhood and adolescence. The youngest of three sisters in a Muslim family from Algeria, and the only one born in France, Fatima struggles to fit in at school and has romantic relationships with women, even though she considers homosexuality a sin. She battles feelings of shame, but refuses to give up any part of herself.
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Daas said her novel was more than an affirmation of identity; it was “a way of saying that it’s possible, I can be this if I want to. And if I want to say that I am a lesbian and a Muslim, I have the right, the capacity, the freedom to do so,” she said.
Salima Amari, a sociologist at the Centre for Political and Sociological Research in Paris and author of the book “Lesbians of Immigration,” said the novel was powerful because it exposed contradictions that many struggled with. “A woman who defines herself clearly as lesbian and a Muslim, who writes, and therefore who has a voice, exists,” Amari said. “This brings a very rare voice to the French landscape.”
Daas said she began writing in high school, where she attended workshops by Tanguy Viel, a writer of mystery and detective novels. It took her a while to find other writers she liked, she added, but something clicked when she discovered Annie Ernaux and Marguerite Duras, two French authors whose work Daas quotes throughout “The Last One.”
She wrote the novel in 18 months, as part of a master’s degree in creative writing at Paris 8 University. There, she met the novelist and filmmaker Virginie Despentes, who had come to talk about her career as part of the course. When Daas told Despentes about the book she was working on, Despentes spurred her on, Daas recalled. “She said a lot of people would see themselves in what I was talking about,” Daas added. “So it was very important that I keep writing.”
Perhaps the most significant taboo Daas addresses in the novel is the issue of internalized homophobia. Throughout, its main character describes herself as “a sinner” and feels embarrassed and ashamed of herself.