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

“The power of a book like Conditional Citizens is in its ability to open space for this kind of remembrance and accounting without requiring complete identification. It invites the privileged, the contingent and the most vulnerable to contemplate the limits of citizenship and see through the delusion of American exceptionalism.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“A powerful meditation on the gray zones many US citizens inhabit amid the traditionally rigid categories of race, religion, and gender.”
Sierra

“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)

“Propulsive, fascinating… Lalami treats this complex, incendiary topic with nuanced consideration and blistering insight.”
—Booklist (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

“Laila Lalami’s first non-fiction book raises vital questions about the meaning of citizenship during an era in which the rights of citizens have become increasingly tenuous. A naturalized U.S. citizen with roots in Morocco and California, Lalami contrasts our American civic culture of equal rights with the reality of our hierarchical, unequal society. Her thoughtful, concise and informative book is an antidote to the amnesia, denial and despair that feed the status quo. “What I want is freedom,” Lalami writes, “not better conditions of subjugation.” She is not alone.”
—Karen Maeda Allman / Elliott Bay Book Co

“Laila Lalami’s account of the multitude of ways that many citizens are treated as lesser is precise and well-argued. Informed by her own experiences, but citing numerous sources about the experience of others, Conditional Citizens makes a convincing case that American society has been—and continues to be—deeply unequal.”
—Keith Mosman / Powell’s Books

“It is these gray lives, as Lalami calls them, with their confounding heterogeneity, that conditional citizenship seeks to stamp out of being. This collection rescues such lives from oblivion.”
ALTA

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Most Anticipated Book of 2020:

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