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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits Paperback – October 2, 2006
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The four main characters of this linked series of fictional profiles are connected by a single goal: the desire to emigrate from Morocco to Spain, where there are jobs. Lalami, author of the literary blog moorishgirl.com, opens her book with the four (along with several others) illegally crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in a tiny inflatable raft; when it capsizes near shore, it is everyone for themselves. The next four chapters flash back to their varying lives in Morocco: Faten, a lower-class, college-aged woman appears only through the eyes of middle-class friend Noura's parents, who are horror-stricken as Noura falls under Faten's influence and begins wearing the hijab; Halima, a financially struggling mother who, with her children, is escaping an abusive marriage; Aziz Ammor, who hopes to support his wife by finding work in Spain; and Murad, a college graduate who makes pocket money by taking Paul Bowles fans on informal tours. The four following chapters detail, with sensitivity and journalistic clarity, their lives after the trip across the Strait. Less a novel than a set of finely detailed portraits, this book gives outsiders a glimpse of some of Moroccan society's strata and the desperation that underlies many ordinary lives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I certainly won't give anything about the plot away beyond the above. As a cursory view into the lives of those struggling in a society, in this case Morocco, who aspire for more opportunity and a fresh start, "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" is a welcome read. One can see great potential from Lalami even though she doesn't fully realize it with this first effort. The seeds of really interesting and different characters are sown, but they aren't fully dimensonalized the way a more polished writer would make them. She delivers some surprising twists in a very credible and believable way that bode well for her as she hones her craft (I have yet to read any of her subsequent work). She is adept at creating a strong sense of the people, culture and place of Morocco to life the encourages and inspires the reader to want to learn and read more.
In summary, I very much enjoyed this book as well as the promise of the author. While this is not a classic and hence only four stars, it was a worthwhile novel that better shaped my understanding of a people and the immigrant experience and enabled me to discover a voice I'd yet to read and who exhibits great raw talent. I'm planning to read her second book, "Secret Son", in the very near future.
Moroccan author, Laila Lalami's novel Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, explores one such attempted crossing. She begins in darkness as the group prepare to depart and then she takes a step back and explores why each of the characters has made the decision to risk everything. The characters have each reached this point in their lives by way of very different paths. Some are running away, some are running to. All believe that it is worth the risk.
Lalami's novel is a fascinating read, putting faces and hopes and dreams to the people who make such journeys. While her characters are all Moroccan, they could just as easily come from Mexico or Afghanistan or Indonesia. And it is not a stretch to relate to many of the circumstances in the book.
The topic of illegal immigrants, or boat people or, as they are often known, refugees, is an important one facing governments around the world. If you're interested in putting a face to some of the statistics, this book is well worth a read.
One of the most rewarding books I've read in a long time.
For many Muslims living in Morocco, the idea of escape to the West is the promise of a better life: a job, the ability to feed one’s family, security. But the crossing of 14 Kilometers across the Strait of Gibraltar in a small boat or inflatable raft is dangerous. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits is a deftly written novel about the lives of four Moroccan immigrants and what drove them to seek a better life in Spain.
From the first pages, the author had me hooked. This is a can’t-put-down book that left you cheering for the characters, and weeping for them when things didn’t quite turn out as they’d hoped. For anyone who has the privilege of living in a prosperous country, this book should make you grateful and compassionate towards those who desire to live the life you are blessed with.