Review: 'Forbidden Lies'

Documentary mines the complex con of a Chicago mother of two whose 'nonfiction' book about honor killings became a bestseller.

David Hancock/AFP

When the nonfiction book "Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan" came out in 2004, it became a worldwide bestseller and was hailed as a searing personal exposé of honor killings in the Middle East. Its author, Norma Khouri, was lionized by the media. Her subject was the murder of a close Muslim friend by her male relatives after they discovered her illicit affair with a Christian man. Khouri herself claimed to be a Jordanian Catholic virgin fleeing a Muslim fatwa. When an enterprising Australian reporter exposed her book as fiction, Khouri fought the charges with a rapidly expanding chorus of deceit. (She was actually a notorious grifter, and mother of two children, from Chicago. Her thick Chicago accent should have been a tip-off.) "Forbidden Lies," a documentary by Anna Broinowski, records, fascinatingly but with far too much slick finesse, Norma's world-class con artistry. Grade: B+

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