Book Review: The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
October 10, 2015 1 Comment
The Moor’s Account: What it is about
Vintage (publisher) says: “In these pages, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America: Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico. The slave of a Spanish conquistador, Estebanico sails for the Americas with his master, Dorantes, as part of a danger-laden expedition to Florida. Within a year, Estebanico is one of only four crew members to survive.
As he journeys across America with his Spanish companions, the Old World roles of slave and master fall away, and Estebanico remakes himself as an equal, a healer, and a remarkable storyteller. His tale illuminates the ways in which our narratives can transmigrate into history—and how storytelling can offer a chance at redemption and survival.”
The Moor’s Account: What I thought
I loved this story of captivity and adventure. Mustafa al-Zamori is a regular guy in his North-African town, but because of adversary circumstances, he sells himself as a slave, so his family has enough money to get through the next few months. Of course, this seemed like a very bad career choice to me, and that is what it turns out to be. As a slave, he cannot control his circumstances and who he is sold to. He ends up with a man who is not that bad to him, but takes him to America, on an exploration trip, reducing his chances to ever see his home town and family again.
In Florida, they lose their sense of direction and are at the mercy of the various Indian tribes. The boundaries between slave and master disappear completely. Mustafa thinks he’s free, but is he really? Although they all become virtual slaves to the Indians at some point, and Mustafa’s master considers them equals, as soon as they get back into civilization, things chance again.
This is a beautiful adventure story that deals with issues such as freedom and property. Can people really be the property of other people? Can a country (Florida) be yours (the Spanish) just because you declare it’s yours?
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Number of pages: 324
First published: 2014
I got this book: from my Penguin Random House representative for an honest review
Genre: historical fiction