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Laila Lalami Presents in Rabat "The Other Americans", a Choral Novel on Identity, Belonging

Publié le Mardi 13 Juillet 2021 | MAP

​Rabat - Moroccan-American author Laila Lalami, presented, Monday in Rabat, her penultimate novel "The Other Americans", a work recounting the bitter fate of a family of Moroccan origin settled in the US and craving the American dream.

The novel, translated into French by Bourgois and then reissued by Le Fennec Editions in 2020, was featured at a literary meeting held by the Hassan II Foundation for Moroccans Living Abroad in the presence of the author.

Working on the principle of a choral novel, "The Other Americans" portrays the tragedy of a family of Moroccan origin living in California and bereaved by the death of its patriarch Driss Guerraoui, killed in a hit and run car accident. This incident prompted a police investigation and opened the door to questions about issues such as migration, identity and belonging.

Speaking on this occasion, Lalami said she was honored to present this novel, which offers "a panoramic view of American society," focusing on "the lives of the immigrant community".

"The first page of this book calls out the question of whether the death was the result of accident or a murder," she said, elaborating on the key milestones in the writing of the book, which she started in 2014 and which was published in the United States in 2019.

"The Other Americans" contemplates "the personal dimension and the political dimension and puts the two in dialogue," she added, speaking of the different characters in the novel who take turns telling their stories. These voices unite and contradict each other as they recount their daily lives in today's America.

"In each creation there is a part of the author and a part of imagination," noted Lalami on the inspirations of his novel.

For her part, publisher Layla Chaouni (Le Fennec Editions) pointed out the particularity of the novel, which challenges and tackles the issue of migration differently, by switching points of view, feelings, testimonials and opinions.

It is a very interesting novel from a literary point of view because it explores the world of a family that has chosen to settle in the United States and presents a polyphonic vision of the American society, she explained.

The literary meeting featured a Q&A session with the author and a book signing session.

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of five novels, including Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005), "Secret Son" (2009) and "The Moor’s Account" (2015) which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

"The Other Americans" was a national bestseller in the US and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction. "Conditional Citizens", a work of nonfiction, is her most recent novel.

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