Praise and Reviews

“Laila Lalami has written with such sharp clarity and illuminating insight that reading this book was like encountering America for the first time. Probing, unflinching and fiercely intelligent, Conditional Citizens is a must-read for all of those who have stared, stunned, at the shifting terrain of our political landscape and wondered how we got here, and what we can do.”
—Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

“This is an urgent, compelling, and persuasive book, written by one of our most important critics of the American character. Laila Lalami has given us a clear-eyed, even-handed assessment of this country’s potential—and its limits—through her insightful notion of conditional citizenship. Her book is a gift to all Americans—if they are willing to receive it.”
—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and Nothing Ever Dies

“With great moral passion and intellectual verve, Laila Lalami explores the questions the political volcanos of our times have thrown at us: where do we belong, how contingent is our place in the world, and how are citizens made and unmade? Whether narrating her own journey or invoking history and literature, she equips us with bracingly fresh resources to confront our terrible new age of mass deportations, border walls, and brutally enforced statelessness.”
—Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger

Conditional Citizens is a blitz on the way the nation titillates and injures its most vulnerable. Lalami has created a fleshy yet rigorous treatise on how this national obsession with suffering necessitates different ways to be and to remember. The book is absolutely remarkable.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

“In this eloquent and troubling account, novelist and National Book Award–finalist Lalami draws on her personal history as “an immigrant, a woman, an Arab, and a Muslim” to argue that becoming a U.S. citizen does not necessarily mean becoming “an equal member of the American family.” … This profound inquiry into the American immigrant experience deserves to be widely read.”
—Publishers Weekly(Starred review)

“Consistently thoughtful and incisive, the book confronts the perils of our modern age with truths to inspire the coalition-building necessary to American cultural and democratic survival. A bracingly provocative collection perfect for our times.”
—Kirkus Reviews

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Most Anticipated Book of 2020:

  • Publishers Weekly
  • The Millions
  • Paste Magazine
  • Buzzfeed
  • Vulture
  • Lit Hub
  • BookPage
  • Ms. Magazine
  • School Library Journal