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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila…

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Laila Lalami

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3041636,791 (3.55)41
Title:Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
Authors:Laila Lalami
Info:Harvest Books (2006), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Short Stories, LT Group Read, Morocco, If All Rochester Reads...

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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami (2005)



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Lalami takes us aboard a crammed inflatable boat as several immigrants from Tangiers try to cross the Gibraltar straight into Spain. But the person they paid to take them to shore, stops short of the shore and drops them off, when some of the passengers cannot swim. Some drown.

The novel is the interwoven stories of four of the survivors, some who made it to Spain and some who did not. It reads very much like a fable and reminds me of the Alchemist. Each character undergoes a transformation, including the ones who never make it to Spain. While it is clear each of them needed to take the journey, it is not clear that each of them needed to leave Tangiers. It is a beautiful book by a talented writer. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
This is a beautiful, beautiful book. It tells the stories of four individuals in two sets of vignettes. The first set is of the four of them in Morocco; the second set tells what happened to the four of them after they were caught entering Spain by the Guardia Civil. I loved how the stories totally embraced the culture of Morocco, using food, sounds, language, words, customs, and more to create the ambience very special to this country. I would have loved a glossary to go with this story as there were some terms I did not know and felt I needed to look them up elsewhere. I have a hard time following stories with a multiplicity of characters, but, even though I had to write down synopses of each chapter so I would remember who was who, I feel that was time well spent. I even excuse the author from compelling me to do this.

I have read one more novel by this author, but I loved this book much more than her second novel. I am eagerly looking forward to reading her newest novel which I heard her talk about during her 2016 appearance at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Nov 3, 2016 |
Laila Lalami is a wonderful writer - sensitive, intelligent, perceptive. This her first novel shows some flaws of inexperience (or poor editing) but regardless is well worth the read. Her strength in this book is her characterization - she presents her characters through a clear lens but always with sympathy. ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Dec 4, 2015 |
From December 2005 School Library Journal:
When is fourteen kilometers the deciding factor between hope and resignation? When it is the distance between two lives, one the actual, poverty-ridden world of modern-day Morocco, and the other the successful life of imagination. The tale opens with thirty people huddled on an inflatable lifeboat meant to hold eight, attempting to illegally cross the Strait of Gibralter from Tangier to Spain. Lalami explores the lives of four of these travelers, from the circumstances that lead up to their being on that lifeboat, to the lives they make for themselves after their attempted crossing is thwarted by the Spanish border’s Guardia Civil.
Murad lives with his mother and younger siblings. Although he has a degree in English and speaks fluent Spanish, his life consists of hustling American and British tourists to various points of interest in Morocco. Halima, married with two young sons, works as a janitor to make ends meet while her husband drinks her earnings away and beats her in frustration. She sees the trip as her one chance at escape. Faten, an outspoken university student, crosses paths with an education administrator and finds herself expelled from school. Aziz, tired of seeing his wife go off to work while he cannot find employment, dreams of making a life for himself in Spain and bringing his wife over once he is established. Two of these four characters avoid the Guardia Civil; two of them do not. Each learns that ultimately, success has little to do with location, and everything to do with the smaller, day-to-day decisions. With a softness and lyricism that belie the fact that this is a first novel, we are introduced to beautifully written characters that make for a gem of a tale.
( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
This young Moroccan-born writer has produced a wonderful debut collection of short stories, set in modern-day Morocco, and Spain. The first half of the book depicts various characters in Morocco who dream of a better life in Spain, just across the Strait of Gibraltar, not even 14 km across the waters. The second half encapsulates the lives of those who have already managed to leave, in search of a better life on the other side, with unfortunately less than desirable results.

Lailami provided an authentic voice, detailing the issues young people currently face in the Arab/Muslim world, which I enjoyed. The stories show the lengths people will go to, to secure a better life for themselves and their families, and the challenges Arabs and North Africans face when entering European/ Western countries.

The mood throughout the slim volume is gray, and a spurt of color would have been welcome to break the cheerlessness. That said, Lalami is a great writer and the book is a quick worthwhile read. I’d definitely read more by Lalami given the chance. ( )
  akeela | Jan 20, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 015603087X, Paperback)

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami's poetic debut, begins with the illegal journey of four Moroccans across the Strait of Gibraltar. Moments away from the shores of Spain, the boat capsizes and the passengers are forced to swim for their lives, and their freedom. What follows is an exploration of the pasts that led to this passage, and the futures that emerge from this voyage.

Less a novel than a series of biographical sketches, the book seems at times like a tease; Lalami does such a beautiful job creating her characters that readers will undoubtedly be left wanting more. Still, each portrait gives us a chance to not only engage with the character, but to gain an understanding of the religious, socio-economic, and emotional circumstances that compel each person to leave Morocco. Faten, a student who dons the hijab, is forced to flee when her religious beliefs start threatening the lives of influential educators. Murad, a serious, educated young man chances the crossing in search of a better life, where he doesn't have to hustle tourists to make a living. In each scene, Lalami bring Moroccan culture to life, from the tree-lined suburbs of Rabat to the Douar Lhajja slum, "where couscous pots were used as satellite dishes."

With Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Lalami creates a world that is both modern and traditional, hopeful and desperate, mournful and joyous. Readers can look forward to much more from this talented new voice. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:14 -0400)

Set in modern-day Morocco, the story of four vastly different Moroccans who illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain chronicles the circumstances that drive them to risk their lives and the rewards that may or may not prove to be worth the danger.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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