Synopses & Reviews
Youssef el-Mekki, a young man of nineteen, is living with his mother in the slums of Casablanca when he discovers that the father he believed to be dead is, in fact, alive and eager to befriend and support him. Leaving his mother behind, Youssef assumes a life he could only dream of: a famous and influential father, his own penthouse apartment, and all the luxuries associated with his new status. His future appears assured until an abrupt reversal of fortune sends him back to the streets and his childhood friends, where a fringe Islamic group, known simply as the Party, has set up its headquarters.
In the spirit of The Inheritance of Loss: A Novel and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Laila Lalami's powerful first novel explores the struggle for identity, the need for family, and the desperation that overtakes ordinary lives in a country divided by class, politics, and religion.
"A nuanced depiction of the roots of Islamic terrorism, written by someone who intimately knows one of the stratified societies where it grows." Gaiutra Bahadur, New York Times
"Laila Lalami's tale of a young Moroccan man who must navigate between a bleak background and a bright possibility is magnificently told and wrenched my heart." Joe Sacco
"The culture and politics of contemporary Morocco are well displayed in this beautifully written tale, with the talented Lalami deftly portraying Youssef's struggles for identity, work, and family. A brilliant story of alienation and desperation that easily transports readers to hot, dusty Casablanca." Library Journal (starred review)
"In her debut novel, Lalami explores the religious and political underpinnings of social inequity in globalized Morocco. An absorbing tale." Kirkus Reviews
"A story brimming with insight into the complexities of life in contemporary Morocco." Booklist
"Relying on her sharp eye for detail rather than authorial comment or character reflection, [Lalami] raises question after question about privilege vs. poverty, Western commercialism vs. traditional ways, secularism vs. religion without ever seeming to be doing more than telling a compelling story." Michael McGregor, The Oregonian
"A tale of contemporary Morocco straddling the personal and the political, told simply, beautifully, with heart and panache. Lalami has talent to burn." Gary Shteyngart
In the spirit of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Lalami's powerful first novel explores the struggle for identity, the need for family, and the desperation that overtakes ordinary lives in a country divided by class, politics, and religion.
Raised by his mother in a one-room house in the slums of Casablanca, Youssef El Mekki has always had big dreams of living another life in another world. Suddenly his dreams are within reach when he discovers that his father--whom he'd been led to believe was dead--is very much alive. A wealthy businessman, he seems eager to give his son a new start. Youssef leaves his mother behind to live a life of luxury, until a reversal of fortune sends him back to the streets and his childhood friends. Trapped once again by his class and painfully aware of the limitations of his prospects, he becomes easy prey for a fringe Islamic group.
In the spirit of The Inheritance of Loss and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Laila Lalami's debut novel looks at the struggle for identity, the need for love and family, and the desperation that grips ordinary lives in a world divided by class, politics, and religion.
About the Author
Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and was short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2006. She lives in Los Angeles.