page 86 of 231 of Exit West

The worse the situation gets, the more willing Saeed is to taking risks. As people are executed for being unmarried and having sex, Saeed and Nadia – who are unmarried – do have sex. And the timing is interesting because he chooses this right after the murder upstairs, while the blood is on their ceiling, like the blood stain after having sex the first time, but somehow this loss of virginity hangs above them.

The “bodies hanging from streetlamps and billboard like a form of festive seasonal decoration” is one of those images that, while it isn’t true because this is a work of fiction, is true because it feels true which makes me assume this has happened somewhere in reality. And has it? At what point does a fiction also become a truth? I think of The Painted Bird, that awful book and its truth / fictions of Eastern Europe