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The Moor's Account

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


**Longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize**
**Nominated for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award**

A Pulitzer Prize Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book
A Wall Street Journal Top 10 Book of the Year
An NPR Great Read of 2014
A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of the Year

In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record.
In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés.
But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquis-tadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.
The Moor’s Account brilliantly captures Estebanico’s voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As the dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration and Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. In Laila Lalami’s deft hands, Estebanico’s memoir illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, even as storytelling can offer a chance for redemption and survival.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 15, 2014 – Lalami's second novel (after Secret Son) is historical fiction of the first-order, a gripping tale of Spanish exploration in the New World set in the years 1527 to 1536, as told by a Muslim slave. Meticulously researched, the novel is told in the first-person by a Moor, Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico by his Spanish master, Andres Dorantes, recounting the disastrous Narvaez expedition into Florida, the Land of the Indians. Estebanico is an educated man, sold into slavery years before, now struggling to survive in an inhospitable land, beset by hostile Indians, disease, and starvation. Greed and the lust for gold leads to unwise leadership decisions on the part of the Spanish, resulting in the deaths of most of the expedition members. Four survivors, Estebanico and three Spaniards, wander for eight years, from Florida and Texas to New Mexico and Arizona, under the constant threat of death and living on the scant generosity of various Indian tribes. Eventually, Estebanico and the Spaniards develop skills as healers, earning respect and powerful reputations, even marrying Indian women and embracing Indian culture and lifestyle. As Estebanico dreams of his freedom from slavery, he clearly understands that explorers Cortes and Coronado are only interested in conquest and empire. This is a colorful but grim tale of Spanish exploration and conquest, marked by brutality, violence, and indifference to the suffering of native peoples.

Customer Reviews

A Good Read

I enjoyed the book; it sort of fleshed out my impressions of the conquest of the New World, having read Guns, Germs, and Steel some years ago. It moved at a decent pace, kept me engrossed, but the ending left me scratching my head. It was as if the author simply ran out of time and lost interest in logically closing it off. Simply put, there was no explanation for the existence of the story's manuscript even though several times the author used phraseology hinting that the story was actually committed to a written form.

So, all that said, I enjoyed and would recommend it.

Not Awful

This is a pretty good adventure story though the narrator holds attitudes that are completely anachronistic and the nonsense in the last third about the power of storytelling is pretty forced.

The Moor's Account
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Sep 09, 2014
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings