Friday, July 5, 2013

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

Isn't that a great title? For Lalami's four main characters it's the hope of a new and better life that compels them to leave their old lives in Morocco and risk illegally crossing the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain. Halima is escaping an abusive husband.  Aziz wants to earn enough money to provide for his wife, Zohra.  Murad just wants a job.  And Faten has been expelled from college and marked by the authorities for her militant views; now she needs to leave Morocco for her own protection.  For these four, hope and danger go hand in hand.

"The six-meter Zodiac inflatable is meant to accommodate eight people.  Thirty huddle in it now, men, women, and children, all with the anxious look of those whose destinies are in the hands of others--the captain, the coastguards, God. ... (Murad) looks at the Spanish coastline, closer with every breath.  The waves are inky black, except for hints of foam here and there, glistening white under the moon, like tombstones in a dark cemetery."

My library didn't have a copy of this book, but I found a used copy online at Powells and bought it for $5.50.  And I'm so glad I did! It's not a long novel, just 195 pages, but Lalami packs her pages with the flavors and melodies of Morocco, and each character's journey is so well-told I found myself wishing that this novel was twice as long.  This is one book I will definitely read again!


  1. That is a wonderful title! Also sounds like a good book, and one that would expand my horizon. I tend to read books about people somewhat similar to me, and it's good to try to break out of that routine.

    Will look for it...maybe has a copy.

    1. It definitely gives you insight into a whole new culture...which is partly why I liked it so much. I want to see if this author has written any other books.

  2. Sounds intriguing! Thank goodness I know someone who might loan it to me....

  3. The title and the subject sound really good. It is amazing how much some writers can do in just under 200 pages!

    Kind regards,