Archive for October, 2005

Please Donate

Monday, October 31st, 2005

The earthquake that hit Pakistan earlier this month has claimed the lives of 80,000 people. It continues to make victims–people dying from disease and lack of care. With winter coming, many more could die. UNICEF reports that it has had significant trouble raising money for the victims.

Despite dire warnings of a looming calamity, the United Nations has had difficulty raising money for the quake victims. As of Friday, it had received just 20 percent of the $550 million it needs for the next six months. Officials have warned that the shortfall could force U.N. helicopters to stop flying as early as this week.

UNICEF controls $62 million of the aid pledge, but has so far received just $13.5 million.

Veneman, a former secretary of agriculture in the Bush administration, joined a chorus of voices calling on the world to act.

“Without urgent action, large numbers of children could die needlessly,” she said, adding that she believed that aid has been slower to arrive because of the many natural calamities over the past year, including last December’s tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Please donate whatever you can, even if it’s just $5. Here is the American site for UNICEF, where you can make a contribution.

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Mandela Comix

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Nelson Mandela has launched a series of comic books about his life. The publications are part of a wider literacy campaign in South Africa.

In related news, anti-Apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who was also jailed on Robben Island along with Mandela, has recently released his memoirs.

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Corruption, Still Rampant

Monday, October 31st, 2005

The Corruption Perceptions Index, compiled by Transparency International, finds that corruption is still rampant around the world. Morocco tied with China, Sri Lanka, Senegal and Suriname for #78.

The countries with the least corruption were Iceland, Finland, and New Zealand.

The United States was ranked #17.

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HODP in The Plain Dealer

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Michele Ross reviews Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits in The Plain Dealer. (No login required.)

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HODP on the Bat Segundo Show

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Bat Segundo #11 is now online. In this show, Ed Champion, Scott Esposito, Beth Wadell, Tito Perez, and I discuss Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, poverty in fiction, the immigration situation in Morocco, and other literary pursuits.

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Ben Barka, Forty Years On

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the kidnapping in Paris of Moroccan dissident Mehdi Ben Barka. A new movie by Serge LePeron retraces the major events of that day.

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Pamuk Essay

Monday, October 31st, 2005

An excerpt from a speech given by Orhan Pamuk in Frankfurt last week when he accepted the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is available in Saturday’s Guardian. The central question that Pamuk addresses is the role of the novel in society–how it lets readers experience the lives of other individuals with whom they may or may not have much in common.

I am using this story as a way into the subject that I am coming to understand more clearly with each new day, and which is, in my view, central to the art of the novel: the question of the “other”, the “stranger”, the “enemy” that resides inside each of our heads, or rather, the question of how to transform it. What drew me to the streets of Frankfurt and Kars was the chance to write of others’ lives as if they were my own. It is by doing this sort of research that novelists can begin to test the lines that mark off that “other” and in so doing alter the boundaries of our own identities. Others become “us” and we become “others”. Certainly a novel can achieve both feats simultaneously. Even as it relates our own lives as if they were the lives of others, it offers us the chance to describe other people’s lives as if they were our own.

Pamuk ties this to reactions to the novel (pride, shame, anger, etc.) and then to general feelings about the culture, and to the question of what happens when cultures come in contact (specifically, Turkey’s bid to enter the European Union.) A very worthwhile and engrossing read.

Related posts:
Pamuk vs. Turkish Government
Pamuk vs. Turkish Government, #2
Pamuk Update

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HODP in Newsday

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Claire Dederer profiles me in the Sunday edition of Newsday. (No login required.)

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Lit Briefs

Monday, October 31st, 2005
  • The October 24 issue of The New Yorker included three pieces by Syrian poet Adonis. The poems were translated by none other than Khaled Mattawa.
  • Richard Nash, Soft Skull Press publisher and frequent blog commentator, has entered the blogosphere. I think we can expect at least a few posts about the various Google Print lawsuits.
  • Issue #3 of Land-Grant College Review is now available.
  • Sam Lipsyte and Gary Shteyngart talk craft over at the Loggernaut website.
  • Micheline Aharonian Marcom and Ursula K. LeGuin are among the recipients of the PEN literary awards, which will be handed out at a ceremony in Los Angeles on November 9th.
  • Poet Suheir Hammad will be reading from her new collection, ZaatarDiva, at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle on November 5th. Details here.

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MoorishGirl Turns Four

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Earlier this month, MoorishGirl turned four years old. In blog years, I suppose that makes me a dinosaur. But, oh, it feels good!

Since it appeared in 2001, MG went from a few dozen readers to nearly 10,000 unique visitors per day. MG readers come from the U.S., Morocco, France, the U.K., Egypt, Spain, Italy, Holland, Israel, Hong Kong, and many other countries around the world. Most readers check the site while at work or at school. A few work in the publishing industry, others in the media, and a handful for government. Marhaba, everyone.

Here is what I have planned for the next few weeks: Guest reviews of several novels, including Yom Sang-Seop’s Three Generations, Naguib Mahfouz’s The Dreams, Dan Olivas’s Devil Talk, and Donna Seaman’s Writers on the Air; book recommendations from Hayan Charara and Rigoberto Gonzalez; giveaways of Wendy Lesser’s A Pagoda in The Garden, Leila Aboulela’s Minaret, the new anthology Waking Up American, and the Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada; in addition, of course, to literary commentary, rants about various news, and updates from my book tour.

I no longer have a comments box for each post because I grew tired of deleting spam, but I welcome your suggestions. If you want to communicate with me, feel free to email me.

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HODP in The Washington Post

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Carolyn See’s review of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits appears in today’s Washington Post. If you can’t access the article because of a subscription wall, use bugmenot.com for a free login and password. You can also read a brief snippet on my author site.

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HODP in Tel Quel

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Casablanca-based Moroccan magazine Tel Quel has a profile of me in its latest issue.

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HODP in Cairo Magazine

Friday, October 28th, 2005

Ursula Lindsey’s review of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits appears in the latest issue of Cairo Magazine. (No login required.)

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Reading Recap: Annie Bloom’s Books

Friday, October 28th, 2005

ll-ab.jpgAudience: About 30.
Anxiety index: 6 (out of 10).
Books given away: Wickett’s Remedy by Myla Goldberg and South African and leading anti-Apartheid figure Ahmed Kathrada’s Memoirs.
Surprise guest(s): Loggernaut‘s Jesse Lichtenstein.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 2.

I wrapped up the West Coast leg of my book tour last night at Annie Bloom’s Books, here in Portland. A reader in the front row took copious notes throughout, which I suppose is both flattering and intimidating. It’s not the first time it’s happened at one of my readings, and yet I’m just not used to it.

I also had a great time during the Q&A because the audience was so engaged–lots of interesting questions about the book, the research, immigration, the process of writing, etc. Great crowd.

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HODP Reading: Portland

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

annie2.gifI finally did make it home last night–at 3 am! Remind me never to fly Alaska Airlines again. But things are looking up already: I’m reading again in Portland, this time at my neighborhood independent bookstore, the one and only Annie Bloom’s Books:

Thursday, October 27
7:30 pm
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, Oregon

Come one, come all. It’s going to be fun!

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We Appreciate Your Patience

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

I’m writing this from the San Francisco airport, where I’ve been waiting for a flight home for the last five hours. The aircraft I was supposed to be on had an indicator light problem and we had to deboard; the second aircraft turned out to have a door problem; and so we were sent back to the first aircraft, which we’ve been promised will leave at 10 pm (five minutes ago!) To make matters worse, some idiot tried to go through the security gate behind us without taking his shoes off, which would have caused delays I can’t even begin to imagine.

The passengers around me are occupying themselves by yelling at the gate agent; speaking on their cell phones; reading Freakonomics and Goals!; eating junk food; and, um, blogging. I am also slowly catching up on email, and wanted to thank the many, many readers who’ve written me in the last few days. I will get to your note, I promise. All this by way of saying: Don’t expect much posting on Wednesday. I think I’m going to spend the day recuperating from my airport adventures, but will probably resume regular blogging by Thursday.

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Reading Recap: A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

Audience: About 45.
Anxiety index: 6 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Yiyun Li (standing next to me in the photo) and Paul S., an ex co-worker of mine who’s moved to San Francisco a few months ago.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 5.

It was a thrill and an honor to be reading at the legendary bookstore A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books last night. And I was also a bit surprised by the great turnout and wonderful reception. I chose to read a couple of scenes with my character Aziz, snapshots from his life before and after his trip.

Several of my cousins showed up, and it was great to be able to read dialogue that included a few words of Moroccan Arabic and know that they would get it. I got a little misty eyed during a scene from “Homecoming,” because it reminded me of a recent loss in a friend’s family, but I managed to keep it together and finish off the reading and then take questions.

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HODP Reading: San Francisco

Monday, October 24th, 2005

ACWLP145trans.gifTonight I’ll be reading from Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits in San Francisco, California. Here are the details:

Laila Lalami
Thursday the 24th
7:00PM
A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books

Hope to see you there!

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Signed Copies

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Last week, Powells.com sold out of signed copies of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, but the good folks at the bookstore have made a few more available online. You can get yours here.

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Reading Recap: Black Oak Books

Monday, October 24th, 2005

Audience: About 35.
Anxiety index: 3 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Writer Lillian Howan, who stopped by with her teenage son.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 1.

Last night’s event at Black Oak Books was a joint reading with Frances Dinkelspiel, Michelle Richmond, and Kevin Smokler. We each read a brief excerpt from our books, and later had a discussion about writing in the blogging age.

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HODP Reading: Berkeley

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Tonight I’ll be reading from Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and having a lit-blog discussion with Kevin Smokler, Michelle Richmond, and Francis Dinkelspiel in Berkeley, California. Here are the details:

Thursday the 23th
7:30PM
Black Oak Books

Hope to see you there!

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MG Readers Rock

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

And you know why? Because they send me cool pictures like this. Here is reader Nina M. at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas posing with HODP.

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And here is James H. at the same store.
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Meanwhile, reader and translator Isabella M. sends this picture of HODP on her desk, in Amsterdam:

isabella_hodp.JPG

Want to share your pix? Email me.

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HODP Hits the Chains

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

For those of you wondering about that snafu at Barnes and Noble, I’m happy to report that it was fixed and the book has been in stores for the last week. I even have photographic evidence:

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This was taken, on my crappy camera phone, at the B&N in Encino. (I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. People do read in the Valley.) As for Borders, I have it on good authority that the books will be in stores on Monday. Some stores already have it, in fact.

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HODP in Elle

Friday, October 21st, 2005

elle.jpgThe November issue of Elle, with Jennifer Anniston on the cover, has a nice review of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits in the Elle Recommends section. It was kind of neat to see a picture of my book sitting on top of the latest by an author named Gabriel Garcia Marquez–you might have heard of him?

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Jim Ruland in Portland

Friday, October 21st, 2005

I’m still out of town, but if I wasn’t I’d be at Reading Frenzy tonight to hear Jim Ruland read from his new collection, Big Lonesome.

The fun starts at 7pm, so go and say hi for me.

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Reading Recap: Beyond Baroque

Friday, October 21st, 2005

lailaatbb.jpgAudience: About 30.
Anxiety index: 4 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Two obstetricians and one pediatric neurologist.
Book given away: Instead of a book, I gave away a silver khamsa, a talisman that’s supposed to protect its wearer from the evil eye.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 3. And they were hugely vocal and supportive. Thanks!

Last night’s reading at Beyond Baroque was a smashing success: great venue, great organization, and great crowd. I read scenes from two stories, “Acceptance” and “Homecoming,” to give people a taste of what my character Aziz was going through before trying his luck on one of the lifeboats, and after he came back to Casablanca, five years later. And I talked about how I came to writing in general, and the process of writing this book in particular.

Thanks to the Levantine Center, we had a great turnout. And we had some great questions, particularly from the Moroccan members of the audience, who seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly. It’s been really pleasurable to meet readers on the tour, and I feel very fortunate that so many people have come out to support Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits.

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HODP Reading: Venice

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Tonight I’ll be reading from Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. Here are the details:

Laila Lalami
Thursday the 20th
7:30PM
Beyond Baroque

This reading is co-sponsored by the Levantine Cultural Center. Aside from the reading, there may even be some live music.

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Reading Recap: Dutton’s Books

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Audience: About 30.
Anxiety index: 5 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Gil E., my ex-boss at ASI. And Fred S. who was in one of my writing classes at UCLA back in 2001.
Book given away: Veronica by Mary Gaitskill.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 1/2.

I hadn’t been back in Los Angeles more than an hour when a Land Rover honked at me for actually stopping at an intersection. Ah, I’m back home, I thought. The smell, the sounds, the smog, the three or four languages I could hear at the coffee shop while I was waiting for my order, the big headlines that read “Storm Watch 2005” because there’s been, like, two inches of rain, the surly actors slash waiters, the lights of the big city all around me–I’d missed it all. And, above all, I got to see all my family and friends and catch up with everyone.

It was a special treat, too, to be able to read at Dutton’s, which was one of my regular hang outs during the many years I lived in L.A. There were quite a few familiar faces at the reading, and I had a great time talking about the book and answering questions. The photo above was taken by my buddy Ibarionex Perello, a fine writer and photographer. (You can read some of his fiction here, and see some of his photo work here.)

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HODP Reading: Los Angeles

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

duttonsbrentwood.gifTonight I’ll be reading from Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits at Dutton’s in Brentwood. Here are the details:

Laila Lalami
Tuesday the 18th
7:00PM
Dutton’s Brentwood

I lived in L.A. for eleven years, and a part of me will always consider it a hometown of sorts, so it feels wonderful to be back. Hope to see you at the reading!

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Word by Word Radio show

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Literary radio show Word by Word now has its own blog. Host Jordan Rosenfeld recently asked me a preview question about my writing. For the full interview, tune in to KRCB on November 2nd.

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