The Other Americans

Finalist, National Book Awards 2019 for Fiction

ISBN 9781524747145
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House
Author photo of Laila Lalami. (Photo credit: Jessica Castro)
Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of five books, including The Moor’s Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Moor’s Account, here is a timely and powerful novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant—at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture.

Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant living in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora’s and an Iraq War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.

As the characters—deeply divided by race, religion, and class—tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’s family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love, messy and unpredictable, is born.

Judges Citation

Laila Lalami’s expertly crafted The Other Americans weaves complicated stories of trauma, displacement, loss, and love to create a rich and resonant world that is difficult to leave. Nine narrators pull us on a spiraling journey, while exploring what it means to be an immigrant and citizen, to honor family, to find truth. This is both a page-turning mystery and a deep meditation on some of our nation’s most profound issues.