Laila Lalami

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Laila Lalami
Born 1968
Rabat, Morocco
Occupation Novelist, professor
Nationality Morocco, United States
Genre fiction
Notable works The Moor's Account (2014), Secret Son (2009), Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005)
External images
Author photo, 2014

Laila Lalami (Arabic: ليلى العلمي‎, born 1968) is a Moroccan American novelist and essayist. After earning her undergraduate degree in Morocco, she received a fellowship to study in England, where she earned an MA in linguistics.

In 1992 Lalami moved to the United States, completing a PhD in linguistics at the University of Southern California. She began publishing her writing in 1996, and in 2015 was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for her novel, The Moor's Account (2014), which received strong critical praise.

Early life[edit]

Lalami was born and raised in Rabat, Morocco, where she earned her B.A. in English from Université Mohammed V. In 1990, she received a British Council fellowship to study in England and completed a M.A. in Linguistics at University College London. After graduating, she returned to Morocco and worked briefly as a journalist and commentator. In 1992 she moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California, from which she graduated with a Ph.D. in Linguistics.[1]


Lalami began writing fiction and nonfiction in English in 1996.[2] Her literary criticism, cultural commentary, and opinion pieces have appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere.

Her debut collection of stories, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was released in the fall of 2005 and has since been translated into six languages. Her first novel, Secret Son (2009), was longlisted for the Orange Prize.[3][4]

Her novel, The Moor's Account (2014), based on Estevanico, the historic first black explorer of America and one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition,[5] was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction[6] and winner of an American Book Award.[7]

Lalami has received an Oregon Literary Arts grant and a Fulbright Fellowship. She was selected in 2009 by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.[8]

She is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.[9]


For The Moor's Account[edit]

Other honors[edit]

For Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits[edit]


Short stories
  • "How I Became My Mother's Daughter". Callaloo 32 (4): 1120–1122. 2009. doi:10.1353/cal.0.0572 – via Project MUSE. 


  1. ^ Essay: Laila Lalami, World Literature Today website
  2. ^ Interview, Writers & Books, 2008.
  3. ^ Profile Thorne, John. The National
  4. ^ "Levy, Mantel battle 7 debut novels for Orange prize"Reuters
  5. ^ Review Los Angeles Times
  6. ^ Pulitzer Citation, The Pulitzer Prizes
  7. ^ American Book Awards press release American Book Awards.
  8. ^ Press Release YGL Honorees 2009.
  9. ^ UCR UCR Creative Writing
  10. ^ Pulitzer Citation The Pulitzer Prizes
  11. ^ Man Booker Prize Annoucement Man Booker Prize Longlist 2015.
  12. ^ American Book Awards press release American Book Awards.
  13. ^ Arab American Book Award Winners Arab American Book Awards.
  14. ^ Citation Hurston/Wright Foundation
  15. ^ The Wall Street Journal Best Books, The Wall Street Journal
  16. ^ NPR NPR
  17. ^ The New York Times The New York Times
  18. ^ Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews
  19. ^ Hedgebrook Hedgbrook News
  20. ^ Lannan Lannan Residency

External links[edit]