I hope you and your loved ones are safe and pray that there is a solution to the coronavirus pandemic before we lose any more lives. As those on the front lines work round the clock to counter the effects of the pandemic, we need to do our bit by maintaining social distancing and self-quarantine.
In times like this, we all have our coping mechanisms. As a firm believer in bibliotherapy, I always turn to books. And what better book to pick up than one that talks of hope and human resilience.
Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Laila Lalami’s debut novel Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was called “an absolute treasure” by Bust. Now, over a decade since its original release, this critically acclaimed work is more relevant than ever. Evoking the grit and grace of modern Morocco, Lalami follows four immigrants illegally crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain. Bold and timeless, it is an own-voice narrative that contemplates how and why people risk their lives, and sometimes break the law, in pursuit of a better future. An empathetic look at immigration, identity, and human resiliency, Lalami’s debut is an essential contribution to the current cultural conversation.
To coincide with the release of Lalami’s newest work, Conditional Citizens, Algonquin Books is publishing Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits with a stunning new cover on April 14th, 2020.
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: October 2005
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits begins as four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain. What has driven them to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? There’s Murad, a gentle, unemployed man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife in hope of securing work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future. Through the diverse stories of these deeply sympathetic characters, Moroccan writer Laila Lalami sensitively evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco.Book Spotlight – Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami #HopeAndOtherDangerousPursuits @LailaLalami @algonquinbooks #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
“[Lalami] is a captivating storyteller who drops us onto an inflatable boat ferrying illegal immigrants from Morocco to Spain. Lalami skillfully limns the dark recesses of the Muslim world and creates true-to-life characters, including Murad, a tout who hustles tourists; Halima, a battered wife fleeing her alcoholic husband and the slums of Casablanca; and Faten, a student and religious radical. With subtlety and grace the author explores the emotional complexities of the culture they’re trying to escape—one that bears more resemblance to ours than we may imagine.”
“Moroccan-born Laila Lalami’s thrilling debut novel follows four desperate people—a fanatical student, a gentle hustler, an abused wife, and a husband searching for decent wages—fleeing Morocco in a flimsy boat across the dangerous Strait of Gibraltar in a death-defying bid for freedom in Spain, a narrative journey that . . . Lalami handles with a keen sense of history, hope, and panache.”
“Laila Lalami’s debut novel is an absolute treasure. With realistic, clear, wonderful writing, she fully explores her characters—flaws, strengths, and all.”
“Lalami’s story lines are evocative, her characters arresting, the settings vivid, and her voice pure and penetrating, ensuring that these striking tales of unsanctioned journeys and urgently improvised lives are at once timely and timeless.”
“This intense portrait of a gorgeous, once-powerful civilization stands in stark relief to the modern society Lalami skillfully depicts with gritty realism . . . impressive: This could well be the preamble to an important body of work.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Laila Lalami’s compelling work of fiction provides an anatomy of hope and struggle. Building with quiet urgency, these tales of a group of travelers gradually transform into the story of a nation and a profound moment in history.”
— Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent and The Language of Baklava
About Laila Lalami:
Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States, a background that informs her nuanced understanding of the human condition. She is a winner of the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the National Book Award in Fiction. She has received fellowships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program, and the Guggenheim Foundation and is currently a tenured professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. Even more importantly, she is a champion for African stories and own-voice narratives.