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The Moor's Account Paperback – August 18, 2015
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“An exciting tale of wild hopes, divided loyalties, and highly precarious fortunes.” —The New Yorker
“An absorbing story of one of the first encounters between Spanish conquistadores and Native Americans, a frightening, brutal, and much-falsified history that here, in her brilliantly imagined fiction, is rewritten to give us something that feels very like the truth.” —Salman Rushdie
“Stunning. . . . The Moor’s Account sheds light on all of the possible the New World exploration stories that didn’t make history.” —Huffington Post
“Lalami has once again shown why she is one of her generation’s most gifted writers.” —Reza Aslan, author of Zealot
“Compelling. . . . Necessary. . . . Laila Lalami’s mesmerizing The Moor’s Account presents us a historical fiction that feels something like a plural totality . . . a narrative that braids points of view so intricately that they become one even as we’re constantly reminded of the separate and often contrary strands that render the whole.” —The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Richly rewarding.” —NPR
“A bold and exhilarating bid to give a real-life figure muzzled by history the chance to have his say in fiction.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] rich novel based on an actual, ill-fated 16th century Spanish expedition to Florida. . . . Offers a pungent alternative history that muses on the ambiguous power of words to either tell the truth or reshape it according to our desires.” —Los Angeles Times
“Estebanico is a superb storyteller, capable of sensitive character appraisals and penetrating ethnographic detail.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Feels at once historical and contemporary. . . . For Lalami, storytelling is a primal struggle over power between the strong and the weak, between good and evil, and against forgetting. . . . Lalami sees the story [of Estebanico] as a form of moral and spiritual instruction that can lead to transcendence.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Meticulously researched and inventive. . . . Those interested in the history of the Spanish colonization of the Americas will find much to like in The Moor’s Account, as will lovers of good yarns of faraway lands and times.” —The Seattle Times
“Excellent historical fiction. . . . The way the Moor’s account differs from the Spaniards is amazing. It’s a play on perspective in more ways than one.” —Ebony
“Artfully conveys the politics and power dynamics of bondage. . . . Eloquently examines the subjectivity of narrative and the creation and manipulation of the truth. . . . With this magnificent novel, Lalami, through fiction, has penned a revelation and tribute to truth.” —The Millions
“Tremendous and powerful, The Moor’s Account is one of the finest historical novels I’ve encountered in a while. It rings with thunder!” —Gary Shteyngart
“Laila Lalami’s radiant, arrestingly vivid prose instantly draws us into the world of the first black slave in the New World whose name we know—Estebanico. A bravura performance of imagination and empathy, The Moor’s Account reverberates long after the final page.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
About the Author
Laila Lalami is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize long list. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, and The New York Times, and in many anthologies. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Residency Fellowship and is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lalami does an incredible job writing as a man who has lost his status, and his hope. Before a devastating drought he was a merchant, but lost everything. To save his family he becomes a slave and eventually travels to Florida with one of the leaders of the expedition. However, after a calamity which leaves only three Spaniards and himself alive, the narrator adapts to his surroundings in the Gulf Coast and to the people and languages much more effectively than the Spanish, who cannot believe they are held in contempt by the natives.
Mustafa and the Spaniards live and continue to move south and west in the hopes of meeting other Spaniards or discovering Spanish settlements. They have few skills, so often are asked to do women's work by the tribes with whom they live. Mustafa displays an ability to heal using herbs and other medical knowledge, and the four gain a following. Eventually, after almost eight years in the wilderness they encounter a Spanish settlement.
Having spent time with the "Indians" they are moved by the plight of the Indians they see in Spanish custody, who are made into slaves and forced into conversion to Christianity. Even as they gain acclaim for surviving their trek, they are called on to give evidence for a new expedition meant to claim more land and make more slaves for Spain.
The book is exceptionally well-written, obviously based on extensive research because several of the survivors wrote official accounts of their experiences. Of course there was no official account from Mustafa because he was a slave at the time. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes history, exploration, the Spanish conquest of the Americas, but also people who enjoy reading about a man's struggle with his own decency and honor. Hats off to Lalami, quite an excellent book.
History is storytelling, and from whose lips the story springs will change its trajectory entirely. Although we cannot return to the past, historical fiction serves to illuminate those parts of history that may have been left in the dark. The imagined memoir Mustafa ibn Muhammad, Laila Lalami’s Moor’s Account gives voice to Mustafa, the first slave in the New World and the fourth survivor of the Navárez expedition. Telling the tale of his life in the New World, Mustafa carefully traces and details extreme travail the four of them faced in the New World. Parallel to his account of hardship in the New World are stories of his childhood in Azemmur, his fall from grace as a merchant who sells slaves, and his selling himself into slavery to provide for his family. As he recounts his past and looks towards his future, Mustafa finds that he must seize his freedom and utilizes storytelling to secure a future for him and his wife in the New World.
The Moor’s Account is, while an elegantly written historical novel, ultimately is a loving homage to storytelling. Referencing Scheherazade early in the novel, Lalami establishes a clear theme of storytelling as a means of survival, seizing power, and freeing oneself, as she demonstrates how Mustafa wins favor with his master by telling him of his past, establishes that the Castilians’ writing their accounts is their writing history itself, and illustrates how Mustafa ultimately becomes free through the fiction he weaves. The novel itself is an exemplary example of storytelling: gripping and vivid, it not only seizes the reader with an intense survival story, but leaves a lasting impression as it demonstrates the possibility of transcendence, no matter what the sin. Telling a fascinating story in lambent prose, The Moor’s Account is the perfect for the reader craving pitch-perfect fiction that packs meaning into every page.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is very well written and researched.Read more