Monday, September 22, 2014

The Moor's Account - a new book about a Moroccan explorer of the Americas

Lala Laila Lalami has penned a new piece of historical fiction. Her new book is entitled The Moor's Account and deals with the story of the life of a Moroccan Berber who visited America in the 1500s  (We've mentioned him earlier on this blog - see the tag "Esteban of Azemmour.")
Here is a link to her discussing the book on NPR.  And here is a New York Times article about the book.

Happy Reading!

His Manifest Destiny
‘The Moor’s Account,’ by Laila Lalami


In 1527, the Castilian conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez and a crew of 600 men sailed from Spain to the Gulf Coast of the United States to claim “La Florida” for the Spanish crown. Laila Lalami recounts the voyage — and its brutal aftermath — in her new novel, “The Moor’s Account,” from the perspective of Estebanico, a ­Moroccan slave of one of the explorers. It’s a fictional memoir, told in a controlled voice that feels at once historical and contemporary, that seeks to offer a truer account of the expedition than the official (and hopelessly biased) version of events provided by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, one of the other three survivors.

It quickly becomes apparent that a strong moralistic impulse drives the story. Crossing “the Ocean of Fog and Darkness” and arriving in America, the conquistadors suffer biblical afflictions in the form of unbearable heat and hordes of mosquitoes. Disease does away with a good number of them, as do the Indians, who take the remaining men captive.

But Lalami is far more interested in what happens to the men after they escape and make their way from Florida to Mexico, bearing witness to wondrous terrain and tribal people. Here we see the previously untold history of the black man as explorer, and an explorer cut from a different cloth.


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