Laila Lalami, Author of "The Other Americans"
The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist discusses her life and work for Arlington Reads.
About the Book
Salman Rushdie describes "The Other Americans" as “absorbing” and “brilliantly imagined.”
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant living in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter, Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she'd left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora's and an Iraq War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son's secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.
As the characters — deeply divided by race, religion, and class — tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’ family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love, messy and unpredictable, is born.
About the Author
Born and raised in Morocco, Laila Lalami is a writer steeped in the past and present of her homeland. An outspoken advocate for immigrants, women, and people of color, Lalami tackles complex questions of identity, Islamophobia, and belonging in essays for Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Nation, where she is a regular columnist. Her most recent novel, a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, is "The Other Americans." Her prior novel, "The Moor’s Account," was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for African-American Fiction, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Award and the International Impact Dublin Literary Award. She is also the author of "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" and "Secret Son."
The recipient of Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize, Morocco’s prestigious Wissam Medal, a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. In April 2020, Lalami will release "Conditional Citizens," a nonfiction book about citizenship and belonging in America. Lalami speaks on immigration, the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim women, and Arab uprisings, as well as her creative process. She also discusses race in America, especially forgotten histories, exploration, and cross-cultural encounters.
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