THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT

Laila Lalami

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2015

FINALIST FOR THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE

WINNER OF THE AMERICAN BOOK AWARD

“Laila Lalami has fashioned an absorbing story of one of the first encounters between Spanish conquistadores and Native Americans, a frightening, brutal, and much-falsified history that here, in her brilliantly imagined fiction, is rewritten to give us something that feels very like the truth.”
Salman Rushdie

In 1527 the Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez arrived on the coast of modern-day Florida with hundreds of settlers, and claimed the region for Spain. Almost immediately, the expedition was decimated by a combination of navigational errors, disease, starvation and fierce resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year, only four survivors remained: three noblemen and a Moroccan slave called “Estebanico”.

The official record, set down after a reunion with Spanish forces in 1536, contains only the three freemen’s accounts. The fourth, to which the title of Laila Lalami’s masterful novel alludes, is Estebanico’s own.

Lalami gives us Estebanico as history never did: as Mustafa, the vibrant merchant from Azemmur forced into slavery and a new name, and reborn as the first black explorer of the Americas, discovering and being discovered by various tribes both hostile and compassionate.

In Estebanico’s telling, the survivors’ journey across great swathes of the New World transforms would-be conquerors into humble servants and fearful outcasts into faith healers. He remains ever-observant, resourceful and hopeful that he might one day find his way back to his family, even as he experiences an unexpected (if ambiguous) camaraderie with his masters.

The Moor’s Account illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, and how storytelling can offer a chance for redemption, reinvention and survival.

WHY WE LOVE THIS BOOK

In Estebanico’s telling, the journey across the New World makes servants of conquerors and transforms outcasts into dignitaries. We feel his exhilaration at discovering a role other than that of mere slave, mixed with doubts about his future and the hope of reuniting with his family. This novel is thrilling, powerful, utterly original.

Paperback • 204mm x 138mm • ISBN 9781859644270 • 328 pages • £9.99