This is an Archive of a Past Event
Come hear award-winning Moroccan-American novelist and essayist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami at a public address "Islam in America: A Forgotten History." Lalami regulary speaks on immigration, the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim women, and Arab uprisings. She also discusses race in America, especially forgotten histories, exploration, and cross-cultural encounters.
After earning her undergraduate degree in Morocco at Université Mohammed-V in Rabat, Lalami received a fellowship to study in the UK, where she earned an M.A. in linguistics at University College in London. In 1992 she moved to the United States, completing a Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Southern California. She began publishing her writing in 1996, and in 2015 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for her 2014 novel The Moor's Account, which received strong critical praise.
The Moor’s Account imagines the life of the first black explorer of America: a Moroccan slave whose voice is missing from the history books. In 1527, a Spanish expedition to Florida met with disaster. Four survivors—three Spanish noblemen and a Moroccan slave—lived with Native American tribes for six years before escaping and wandering through what is now Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Years later, the Spaniards wrote and spoke about their ordeal, but the slave—Mustafa al-Zamori, always called Estebanico—was never asked to share his story. Despite serving as a scout and interpreter, Mustafa/Estebanico was considered an unreliable or unworthy voice in this most extraordinary of narratives. Finally, Lalami gives him a voice in The Moor’s Account, which Salman Rushdie called, “an absorbing story of…a frightening, brutal, and much-falsified history.”
Laila Lalami’s writing has been published in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, and The New York Times. Her prose has been translated into ten languages. Lalami has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a British Council Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.