Skylight Books presents renowned author Laila Lalami, who reads from The Moor’s Account, the imagined memoirs of the New World's first explorer of African descent in a free event at the vibrant, independent bookstore.
From the author of Secret Son and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits comes The Moor's Account, the imagined memoirs of the New World's first explorer of African descent, a Moroccan slave known as Estebanico. In 1527 Panfilo de Narvaez sailed from Spain with a crew of six hundred men, intending to claim for the Spanish crown what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States. But, from the moment the expedition reached Florida, it met with ceaseless bad luck—storms, disease, starvation, and hostile natives. Within a year there were only four survivors, including the young explorer Andres Dorantes and his slave, Estebanico.
After six years of enslavement by Native Americans, the four men escaped and wandered through what is now Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Moor's Account brilliantly captures Estebanico’s voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As this dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration, and that 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 at redemption and survival.
Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. She attended Université Mohammed V in Rabat, University College in London, and the University of Southern California, where she earned a Ph.D. in linguistics. She is the author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and the novel Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The New York Times, and in numerous anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.
Image Credit: Alexander Yera