Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

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9780156030878: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

In her exciting debut, Laila Lalami evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco and offers an authentic look at the Muslim immigrant experience today. 
The book begins as four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain. There’s Murad, a gentle, educated man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife to find work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future.

 What has driven these men and women to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a grip­ping book about people in search of a better future.

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Review:

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Laila Lalami's poetic debut, begins with the illegal journey of four Moroccans across the Strait of Gibraltar. Moments away from the shores of Spain, the boat capsizes and the passengers are forced to swim for their lives, and their freedom. What follows is an exploration of the pasts that led to this passage, and the futures that emerge from this voyage.

Less a novel than a series of biographical sketches, the book seems at times like a tease; Lalami does such a beautiful job creating her characters that readers will undoubtedly be left wanting more. Still, each portrait gives us a chance to not only engage with the character, but to gain an understanding of the religious, socio-economic, and emotional circumstances that compel each person to leave Morocco. Faten, a student who dons the hijab, is forced to flee when her religious beliefs start threatening the lives of influential educators. Murad, a serious, educated young man chances the crossing in search of a better life, where he doesn't have to hustle tourists to make a living. In each scene, Lalami bring Moroccan culture to life, from the tree-lined suburbs of Rabat to the Douar Lhajja slum, "where couscous pots were used as satellite dishes."

With Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Lalami creates a world that is both modern and traditional, hopeful and desperate, mournful and joyous. Readers can look forward to much more from this talented new voice. --Gisele Toueg

From the Back Cover:

"A bracing and beautiful little novel." "The Washington Post Book World"
In her exciting debut, Laila Lalami evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco and offers an authentic look at the Muslim immigrant experience today.
For reasons as different as the lives they are leaving behind, four Muslims illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain. What has driven these men and women to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a gripping book about people in search of a better future.
"Lalami skillfully limns the dark recesses of the Muslim world and creates true-to-life characters . . .With subtlety and grace the author explores the emotional complexities of the culture they re trying to escape one that bears more resemblance to ours than we may imagine." "People
"
"In a book that feels as contemporary as a newspaper headline, that seems to explain so much . . . Lalami paints a vivid picture of modern-day Morocco as a place of dashed dreams and political repression."--"The Boston Globe
"
Laila Lalami was born and raised in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Britain, and the United States. Her work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Times, " the "Baltimore Review, " the "Oregonian, " the "Nation, " and elsewhere. She is the creator and editor of Moorishgirl.com, a blog about books and culture. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Reading Group Guide available at www.HarcourtBooks.com.
"

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