I’m delighted to share that my most recent novel, The Other Americans, is the March selection of the California Book Club. For the occasion, I wrote an essay on belonging and unbelonging for Alta Magazine. In the same issue is a review and recommendation from the magazine’s books editor, David L. Ulin. The book club discussion will take place online, so please join me in conversation with John Freeman on March 21. Register here.
In other news, I contributed to my friend Jami Attenberg’s anthology, 1000 Words: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round. The piece is about how writing was my buoy through an ocean of grief after the death of my father; I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it through if I hadn’t been writing. The list of contributors is staggeringly good, with all kinds of advice on how to stay creative. Take a look!
This is a picture of me in my light-filled office at the Radcliffe Institute, where I’ve been working on my new novel these last few months. The weather has started to cool, and we’ve already had a sprinkling of snow, so I’m going to take advantage of the winter break to return to the California desert for a few weeks. But I wanted to post a few updates here before I forget.
I reviewed two books that were recently published in English translation: Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s The Most Secret Memory of Men for The Washington Post and Chantal Montellier’s graphic novel Social Fiction for The Nation. I miss writing about books, and I hope to be able to do more of it in the new year.
It was a delight to hear that Time magazine selected The Other Americans as one of its 100 Best Mystery and Thriller Books of All Time, alongside works by masters of the genre (Patricia Highsmith, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes) and contemporary authors, many of them dear friends.
This fall, I was in conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen for the second of his Norton lectures at Harvard, “On Speaking as an Other.” If you’re interested, you can watch the lecture and convo in full here. I also served as a table host for Words Without Borders’ gala. WWB is a wonderful organization that promotes global literature, and is often the first to publish international writers in the United States. There was a nice write-up about the event in the New York Times.
As always, you can keep up with my work through Instagram and BlueSky (and Twitter, for however long it lasts). You can also check out my events page for public readings and talks.
Friends, I’m delighted to share the news that I’ve been awarded a yearlong fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. I’ll be using the time and space to work on my new novel, The Dream Hotel, which follows a museum archivist who gets detained after an algorithm accuses her of a crime. (That’s a picture of me in the California desert, wondering if I can handle an east coast winter!)
Speaking of California, the New York Times Magazine devoted a special issue to the future of the state, looking at everything from housing to the YIMBY movement. I contributed the opening essay, which uses the history of California’s highways and byways to explore how the past shapes the future. (The stunning illustration is by Benjamin Marra.) Take a look, let me know what you think!
In August, Bloomsbury UK is releasing a new edition of The Moor’s Account, with this gorgeous cover art by Carmen R. Balit. It really is thrilling to see this novel continue to find new readers, and I’m so grateful to all the booksellers, librarians, teachers, and festival curators who’ve embraced it and continue to share it with people. I spoke to NPR affiliate KUNM about it just recently. Have a listen if you’re curious.
In other news, if you find yourself in Berlin this summer, please come see me at the African Book Festival, which takes place August 25-27 and will feature Leila Aboulela, Véronique Tadjo, and your humble servant, among others.
On a less celebratory note, I found out recently that my novel The Other Americans was banned by a school district in Ohio because it included “a sexual intimacy scene.” As you know, book bans are on the rise across the United States. (Often it takes a single complaint by a parent for a book to be removed from a school library or a course reading list!) If you’re in one of these districts, please connect to Books Unbanned, an initiative by the Brooklyn Public Library that allows teens to get a free library card to access their extensive ebook library.
And finally, for those of you in Los Angeles, I’ll be in conversation with the writer, editor, and critic David Ulin about my most recent novel, The Other Americans, on July 13 at 6 pm. The setting is Zibby’s, the very cozy new bookstore in Santa Monica. Come say hello!
That’s about it for now. For more updates, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also check out my events page for public readings and talks.
So much has happened since my last update that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s see. This summer, I wrote about the tragedy at the Spanish border post of Melilla, where 23 people, many of them refugees from countries like Sudan, died in confrontations with Moroccan border police. The massacre is one of many that have been happening recently, as a result of a decade-long effort on the part of the EU to outsource its border enforcement to countries outside its doors. For example:
[The EU] has signed agreements with Libya and Tunisia to intercept Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and take them to detention centers in their own countries. It has arranged for its border agents to deploy in Senegal to prevent migrants from reaching the Canary Islands. And it has erected a network of walls and fences between Greece and Turkey to stop migrants from the south and between Poland and Belarus to stop those coming from the east. The union has also spent millions on virtual walls — the technology that makes it possible to police borders, detect human movement and identify migrants.
You can read the op-ed in full here. And if you’re interested in reading more about migration and borders within the U.S., take a look at my book, Conditional Citizens.
In October, my novel The Moor’s Account came out in Germany, under the title Der Verbotene Bericht, translated by Michaela Grabinger. Thank you to the many readers who’ve posted about it on Instagram and shared pictures, reels, and reviews—like this piece in Falter or this essay in Taz.
This fall, I did several interviews, including one for Mychal Denzel Smith’s podcast, Open Form, where we talked about one of my favorite movies, The Godfather; another with Afikra, where we discussed my work more generally; and yet another (in French) with the television channel 2M, to promote the French translation of my novel The Other Americans.
More recently, I compiled a Tangier reading list for the New York Times Book Review. If you’ve ever thought of visiting the city, or if you’re curious, take a look at the fiction and nonfiction I’ve recommended.
I’ve just started to update my events page for 2023. If you’re interested in having me speak on your campus or to your cultural organization, get in touch! And of course, you can follow me on Instagram or (for as long as it lasts) Twitter.