Laila Lalami Novel Reaps Another Honor

Creative writing professor's work of historical fiction, “The Moor’s Account,” wins an American Book Award

Laila Lalami and book jacket

Laila Lalami’s work of historical fiction, “The Moor’s Account,” has won an American Book Award.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Pulitzer Prize finalist and UC Riverside creative writing professor Laila Lalami has won an American Book Award for her latest novel, “The Moor’s Account” (Pantheon, 2014).

Lalami is one of 17 writers honored by The Before Columbus Foundation, which announced winners of the 36th annual awards on July 20. Winners will be formally recognized in ceremonies in San Francisco on Oct. 25.

The American Book Awards recognize outstanding literary achievement “from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community,” according to the foundation. There are no categories or nominees, and winners are chosen by other writers. In a statement announcing the winners, foundation officials wrote, “The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term ‘multicultural’ to be not a description of various categories, groups, or ‘special interests,’ but rather as the definition of all of American literature.”

“The Moor’s Account” is the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America — a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record of the 1527 expedition of Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez. There were only four survivors.

The work of historical fiction was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in April. It also is a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, which honors excellence in fiction, poetry and nonfiction by writers of African descent. The winner will be announced during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in October. More than 200 entries are submitted each year, according to The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, which sponsors the award.

“The Moor’s Account” has been named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Top 10 Books of the Year, one of NPR’s Great Reads of 2014, and is on the list of Kirkus Best Fiction Books of the Year.

Lalami, a professor of creative writing, joined the UCR faculty in 2007. She is the author of “Secret Son” and “Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits.”

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Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
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Laila Lalami
E-mail: laila.lalami@ucr.edu

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