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Laila Lalami


Office: 4127 INTS
E-mail: laila.lalami@ucr.edu

Personal Website

Laila Lalami is the author of the novels Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist, and The Moor’s Account, which was a New York Times Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, and a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year. The Moor’s Account won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was also on the Man Booker Prize longlist and was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington PostThe Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She writes the “Between the Lines” column for The Nation magazine and is a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.  Her new novel, The Other Americans, will be published by Pantheon Books in March 2019.


  • Ph.D. Linguistics. 1997. University of Southern California.
  • M.A. Linguistics. 1991. University College London, University of London.
  • B.A. English Language and Literature. 1990. Universite Mohammed-V


  • The Moor's Account. Pantheon, 2014.
  • Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits. Algonquin Books, 2005. Harcourt, 2006.
  • Secret Son. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books, 2009.

Short Stories

  • "The Trip." Translated into German as "Harragas." Lisan Verlag. May 2008.
  • "The Turning Tide." Elle India. April 2008. Translated into Italian as "Il destino nelle onde." Internazionale Magazine. December 2007.
  • "El Dorado." First Intensity. Fall 2005.
  • "Better Luck Tomorrow." The Baltimore Review. January 2005.
  • "The Lessons." Mizna. December 2004.


  • “Our Gang.” The New York Times Magazine. July 1, 2018.
  • “Hearts and Minds.” Harper’s. February 2018. 29-30.
  • “Changing Sides.” The New York Times Magazine. August 6, 2017. 11-13.
  • “Over The Edge.” The New York Times Magazine. April 30, 2017. 13-15.
  • “Public Figure vs. Private Writer.” The Los Angeles Times Book Review. April 2, 2017. F1.
  • “Love and Betrayal in America.” The New Yorker. February 3, 2017.
  • “Group Think.” The New York Times Magazine. November 27, 2016.
  • “For or Against.” The New York Times Magazine. November 29, 2015.
  • “Chronicles of the Veil.” The Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly. Winter 2014. 114-117.
  • “My Fictional Grandparents.” The New York Times Magazine. July 28, 2013. 54. Reprinted in The International Herald Tribune. July 31, 2013. 7.
  • "The Dot Matrix." The Nation. January 21, 2008. 
  • "Beyond the Veil." The Nation. December 10, 2007. 
  • "Revenants." The Nation. November 22, 2007. 
  • "Native Speaker." The Boston Review. September/October 2006. 
  • "The Missionary Position." The Nation. June 19, 2006.
  • "Exile and the Kingdom." The Nation. March 20, 2006.
  • "Colonial encounters." The Nation. September 26, 2005. 


  • “Who Owns Public Space?” The Nation. June 18-25, 2018. 10-11.
  • “After the Raid.” The Nation. May 14, 2018. 12-13.
  • “Save the Arts, Save America.” The Nation. April 17, 2017. 10-11
  • “Conditional Citizens.” The Nation. October 10, 2016.
  • “Against Easy Stories: Facile Explanations for the Charlie Hebdo Massacre Must Be Resisted.” The Nation. February 2, 2015. Reprinted in The Nation: 150th Anniversary Edition.
  • "Looking Past Cliches." The Nation. May 6, 2008.
  • "The Fear Factor in the Campaign." The Boston Globe. April 19, 2008. 
  • "The Fake Prince of Facebook." The Nation. February 21, 2008.
  • "Censorship's New Clothes." The New York Times. February 3, 2007. Reprinted in the International Herald Tribune. February 5, 2007.

Book Reviews

  • “Displaced Persons.” Review of Daniel Alarcón’s The King is Always Above the People. The New York Times Book Review. January 1, 2018.
  • “The South (and the West) Through Joan Didion’s Eyes.” The New York Times Book Review. April 16, 2017.
  • “Eight Books About Muslim Life For a Nation That Knows Little About Islam.” The Washington Post. December 16, 2015.
  • “Scene of a Crime.” [Cover review of Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation.] The New York Times Book Review. June 14, 2015. 
  • “The Ethics of Torture, Explored in a Painful Fable.” NPR’s All Things Considered. December 12, 2014.
  • “Nuruddin Farah’s Hiding in Plain Sight.” The New York Times Book Review. November 21, 2014.
  • “This Fight Begins in the Heart: Reading James Baldwin as Ferguson Seethes.” NPR’s All Things Considered. August 19, 2014.
  • “Imagine.” [On J.M. Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus.] The Nation. October 14, 2013.  33-35.
  • “Among the Blasphemers: On Salman Rushdie.” [On Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton.] The Nation. February 4, 2013. 27-32.
  • “In Annawadi.” The Nation. May 7, 2012. [On Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum.] 27-30
  • “Everything Except Me.” The Nation. [On Percival Everett’s Assumption and Erasure.] February 6, 2012. 35-37

Prizes and Awards
The Moor’s Account

  • Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for fiction. 2015.
  • Longlist, Man Booker Prize. 2015.
  • Winner, American Book Award. 2015.
  • Winner, Arab American Book Award. 2015.
  • Winner, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. 2015.
  • Longlist, IMPAC Dublin Award. 2015.
  • Finalist, Bridge Book Award in Rome. 2015.
  • Honorable Mention, Langum Prize for Historical Fiction. 2014.

Secret Son

  • Orange Prize longlist. 2010.
  • IndieNext Selection. 2009.
  • Twenty Best 9/11 Books. The Guardian.

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

  • Finalist, Oregon Book Award. 2006.
  • Finalist, John Gardner Fiction Prize. 2006.
  • Top Ten Book of the Year, The Oregonian. 2005.
  • Booksense Pick. 2005.

Selected Honors

  • Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship. Marfa, Texas. Fall 2018.
  • Santa Monica Project Fellowship. 2018.
  • Guggenheim Fellowship. 2016-2017.
  • 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World. 2015, 2017, 2018.
  • Santa Monica Artist Fellowship. 2015-2016.
  • Yaddo Colony Fellowship. July 2015.
  • Elizabeth George Foundation ‘Women Authoring Change’ Fellowship. August 2013.
  • Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum, 2009.
  • Finalist, Nona Balakian Citation. National Book Critics’ Circle. 2009.
  • Fulbright Fellowship to Morocco. 2006- 2007.
  • Finalist, Caine Prize for African Writing. 2006.
  • Fletcher Pratt Fellowship in Fiction. Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. August 2006.
  • Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction. 2006.