Laila Lalami

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Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami.jpg
Lalami Author Photo
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)

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 the UK, 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 2014 novel The Moor's Account, which received strong critical praise.

Early life[edit]

Lalami was born and raised in Rabat, Morocco, where she earned her BA in English from Mohammed V University. In 1990, she received a British Council fellowship to study in England and completed an MA 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 PhD 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. In 2016, she was named both a columnist for The Nation[3] magazine and a critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times Book Review.[4]

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 (one of them being Dutch). Her first novel, Secret Son (2009), was longlisted for the Orange Prize.[5][6]

Her 2014 novel The Moor's Account, based on the life of Estevanico, the first black explorer of America and one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition,[7] was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction[8] and the winner of an American Book Award.[9]

Lalami has received an Oregon Literary Arts grant, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.[10] She was selected in 2009 by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.[11]

She is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.[12]


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. ^ "‘The Nation’ Names Laila Lalami ‘Between the Lines’ Monthly Columnist"The Nation
  4. ^ Introducing the L.A. Times Critics-at-Large Los Angeles Times
  5. ^ Profile Thorne, John. The National
  6. ^ "Levy, Mantel battle 7 debut novels for Orange prize"Reuters
  7. ^ Review Los Angeles Times
  8. ^ Pulitzer Citation, The Pulitzer Prizes
  9. ^ American Book Awards press release American Book Awards.
  10. ^ Guggenheim Foundation Guggenheim Foundation press release
  11. ^ Press Release YGL Honorees 2009.
  12. ^ UCR UCR Creative Writing
  13. ^ Pulitzer Citation The Pulitzer Prizes
  14. ^ Man Booker Prize announces 2015 longlist | The Man Booker Prizes Man Booker Prize Longlist 2015. 29 July 2015
  15. ^ American Book Awards press release American Book Awards.
  16. ^ Arab American Book Award Winners Arab American Book Awards.
  17. ^ 2015 Hurston Wright Legacy Awards The Washington Post
  18. ^
  19. ^ The Wall Street Journal Best Books, The Wall Street Journal
  20. ^ NPR NPR
  21. ^ The New York Times The New York Times
  22. ^ Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews
  23. ^ Guggenheim Foundation Guggenheim Foundation press release
  24. ^ Hedgebrook Hedgbrook News
  25. ^ Lannan Lannan Residency

External links[edit]