Laila Lalami

Author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

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Rochester Arts and Lectures: Laila Lalami
Downtown United Presbyterian Church, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 7:30pm
Novelist Laila Lalami is one of the most exciting and original voices in contemporary fiction, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, longlisted for the Orange Prize longlist, and, most recently, The Moor's Account. The Moor's Account is a stunning work of historical fiction: the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America, a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record. In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés. As this dramatic chronicle unfolds through the story of the first black slave in the New World whose name we know -Estebanico- we see that black men played a significant part in New World exploration, and that Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. Lalami’s novel illuminates the ways in which stories can bring forgotten history to life. The Moor’s Account was a New York Times Notable Book, a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, an NPR Best Book of the Year, a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in many anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. Winner of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. (strongstuff)
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