Forbidden Love/Honour Lost by Norma Khouri
Forbidden Love was first published in 2003 and placed in the autobiography section of the bookshops.
In the book (which I have not read), Khouri (a pen name) claimed that she grew up in Jordan, and that a close Muslim friend of her was murdered in an honour killing for falling in love with Christian soldier.
From the Wikipedia article: “Sydney Morning Herald journalist Malcolm Knox uncovered Khouri as a fraud in 2004, a year after the book’s release, exposing that she fabricated the story and sold it untruthfully as a memoir. She had lived in Chicago for most of her life and was married with two children. As a result, publisher Random House pulled the book off the shelves in Australia and England indefinitely.”
Forbidden Lie$ is a documentary made to discover whether or not Khouri lied, or as she claimed, took ‘artistic license’ with the book. The documentary discovered that Khouri could not substantiate any claims she made, no one could find any evidence of the friend that was supposedly murdered, and that Khouri had actually committed other frauds on her elderly neighbour before the book was written.
All in all, this was a pretty rotten trick by someone claiming something fantastic as autobiography. If it was simply submitted as a fiction novel, it probably wouldn’t have even made it to a publisher. As it was, promoting the story as real-life and autobiographical made it more interesting and intense. It’s a pity the background research wasn’t done before it was published, but I guess this goes to show that even criminals can slip through the cracks.
- Creative approach to non-fiction nothing new (theglobeandmail.com)