Laila Lalami

reads from

The Moor's Account:
A Novel

This event includes a book signing

Date

Oct
9
Thursday
October 9, 2014
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes essayist, author, and professor LAILA LALAMI for a reading from her latest novel, The Moor's Account.

Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record—in this work of historical fiction. 
 
In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés.
 
But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquis-tadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.
 
The Moor’s Account brilliantly captures Estebanico’s voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As the dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration and Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. In Laila Lalami’s deft hands, Estebanico’s memoir illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, even as storytelling can offer a chance for redemption and survival.

Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami is the author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits; Secret Son; and The Moor's Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Harper's, The Guardian, and The New York Times. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Photo Credit: April Rocha

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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