The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Bloomsbury 3. Background: Pioneer Town – Pipes Canyon By Jeremy Levine Designs. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via flickr 4. Swearing-in. By City of Davis [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 5. Sweet_moroccan_honey_biscuits_in_the_Souks_of_Marrakech By La Chimère – Own work, [CC BY-SA 4.] Changes: cropped and background removed. via Wikimedia 6. man-american-white-guy-dude. By nicograf. [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via pixabay 7. Men Man Face. By facundoc77. [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via needpix 8. people-girl-woman-african-american. By StockSnap. [Free for commercial use; No attribution required] via pixabay

This is the story of the Guerraoui family, immigrant Moroccans living in a small town near the Joshua Tree National Park. Driss Guerraoui is killed in a hit-run outside his diner, and his family (wife Maryam and daughters Nora and Salma) are grieving. The circumstances leading to his death, the investigation into his death, and the family background is told from the point of view of six main characters and several more.

“The town lights sparkled in the desert, but once we drove into the national park, darkness wrapped itself around us. In the distance were giant boulders and, everywhere on the plain beneath them, Joshua trees. I had always loved the oaks and the pines and redwoods of the Bay Area, with their long and leafy limbs, but I had missed the desert trees: stout, prickly, wild-armed, and yet utterly fragile.”

“I had noticed this before about Americans – they always want to take action, they have a hard time staying still, or allowing themselves to feel uncomfortable emotions …”

“All I saw was a man lying on the ground.”

~Quotes from “The Other Americans” by Laila Lalami
  • The Guardian: The Other Americans demonstrates brilliantly, in ways foreseen and unforeseen, as often denied as acknowledged, how the personal and political enmesh in all our lives.”
  • The Atlantic:The Other Americans is, on its face, a novel that traces the story of one immigrant family and the seemingly inexplicable tragedy that ruptures it. But through her many characters’ specific and overlapping perspectives, Lalami also questions the feasibility of any centralized American identity. None of the novel’s narrators, even those who are citizens, ever quite measures up to the expectations they feel their immediate community, or their country, has of them. They are too loud or too brown or too soft. Too different. Nobody is ever enough.”

Also published by Penguin Random House

Awards: 2019 Finalist National Book Award


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