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The Other Americans

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,134 ratings  ·  358 reviews
From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Moor’s Account, here is a timely and powerful new novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant–at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture.

Late one spring night, as Driss Guerraoui is walking across a darkened intersection in California,
320 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by Pantheon
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,134 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable, timely novel. Impeccably written story about a hit and run, a family that must grapple with their grief as they try to make sense of why they’ve lost Driss, the patriarch, and the slowly unraveling mystery of who is responsible for the unthinkable. I love the depth of character here for Nora and Jeremy. The narrative is good from many points of view but theirs is the heart of this story and what a beautiful beating heart it is.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Laila Lalami is gradually becoming one of the writers I am definitely going to follow. Her writing style and character development is exquisite and absolutely to my liking. The Other Americans does not belong to the page-turner category, but for me it was!! I could not put down this novel revolving around a seemingly hit-and-run fatal accident in which a Moroccan immigrant is killed. Driss and his family left Morocco many years ago escaping political persecution, and, though with difficulty, the ...more
Chaima ✨ شيماء
Growing up in this town, I had long ago learned that the savagery of a man named Mohammed was rarely questioned, but his humanity always had to be proven.

The hit-and-run killing of Driss Guerraoui echoed through his daughter’s mind with the vitality of a heartbeat. The pain of it in her breastbone is goading her to seek answers, and it was a tether that held her to the small Mojave Desert town. But the more Nora tries, the further her hopes sink, as inexorably as if they are weighted with st
Elyse Walters
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
.....Men speaking in hushed voices in the mortuary
.....An ingredient was always missing, but way too many different types of milk in America. ( I agree)....
.....Maryam, ( widow), had to leave many Moroccan traditions behind. And the more that time passed....the more they mattered to her.....even in death.
....the funeral seemed wrong to Maryam.
....Nora, A STAND OUT CHARACTER, a jazz composer, youngest daughter, ( her father’s favorite, and allied), was often criticized as a child growing up by b
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
Now THAT is what I call a page-turner! Lalami's polyphonic novel revolves around the death of a Moroccan immigrant who got hit by a car in front of his restaurant - was this an accident and the driver (who fled the scene) didn't see his victim because it was already dark, or did he intentionally kill the man? For me, the appeal of the story lies in the changing points of view, as every chapter is told from a different perspective: The main protagonists are the dead man's daughter Nora, who tries ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I expected more from this because I SO loved Lalami’s last book, The Moor's Account. I thought that was just brilliant. This is something completely different, a lackluster combination of domestic drama, light suspense, romance and immigration/cultural issues. Being neither one thing nor another didn’t work for me. Additionally, Lalami has a good-sized group of rotating narrators who take turns unfolding the story in short chapters. None of the personalities struck a chord with me; in fact, they ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A timely page-turner about a Moroccan family reunited by the death of their patriarch, Driss Guerraoui, a father who immigrated to the United States in search of a safer life. Nora, the younger of his two daughters and a jazz composer, returns home upon hearing about how her father died in a car accident. There, in Mojave, California, she reconnects with her mother, a woman who years for the life she had before immigrating, and her sister, Salma, a successful dentist envious of how her father fa ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Moroccan-American Lalami explores the issues of immigration, cultural diversity, and white resentment in a small town near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The hit-and-run death of Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant causes huge ripples across his family and the community. Who could have done this—and not even stop to help?

Lalami follows the ripples caused by Driss’ death through multiple voices. There is Nora, his youngest daughter who is pursuing music composition
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moroccan-American novelist Leila Lalami is a multiple award-winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist; here, she has essentially written a story exploring the secrets families keep and the diverse, multicultural cast were a joy to behold. However, my primary issue was the ever-changing point-of-view switching between about ten different characters which was unnecessarily complicated, and what made it worse was that they each sounded the same and could not be differentiated from one another. Very monoto ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
The Other Americans was an all round pretty solid read, which missed the mark a little for this reader.

The story hinges around the death of a Moroccan man, Driss, killed in a hit-and-run accident in the U.S., where he had lived for the past few decades with his family. We follow the investigation into his death and the impact it has on his youngest daughter, Nora. The story is told from a number of viewpoints (too many for me - it got a little confusing at times) of key characters in the narrati
The Other Americans is a multilayered novel. It is all at once a family saga, a mystery, social commentary and a love story. Told from the perspectives of the victim, his immigrant family, neighbors and police, The Other Americans not only provides a clear lense for racial and class tensions, but also allows insight into the burdens our protectors carry. Although the book description focuses on the hit and run accident that claimed the life of patriarch Driss Guerraroui, at the forefront of this ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
The title – The Other Americans – provides an undeniable clue as to what Laila Lalami wants to achieve in this, her third novel. The hit-and-run death of Moroccan diner owner Driss Guerraoui, creating seismic waves that introduce us to a cast of characters with his single daughter, Nora, a struggling composer at the center of it.

All the main characters are American outsiders – the Moroccan Guerraoi family (Driss, his wife Maryam, Nora, and her sister Salma), a traumatized Iraqi veteran Jeremy wh
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up.

It grew on me, and about 2/3 of the way through I felt as if I knew and was comfortable with many of the characters. There are too many for all of them to be fully realized, but Nora and Jeremy, who are the primary players, come through well. I didn't fully buy the trajectory of their relationship, but that's OK. Similarly, I wish the character who turned out to be the ultimate bad guy was less obviously horrible. We got a spate of information about him at the end, which wo
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans is compulsively readable, carefully plotted, and well paced. Lalami fills it with empathy for her characters, even its least sympathetic and most despicable characters. Although not pollyannish, The Other Americans is the rare current novel that leaves at least this reader feeling somewhat better about today’s United States.

The Other Americans contains few surprises with either its plot or its characters. As you read Lalami’s latest novel, you may not know exac
Anna Luce
★★✰✰✰ 2.5 stars (rounded down)

I'm really disappointed by this book. It tells a predictable and unevenly paced story which focuses on flat stereotypes whose different point of views merge into one indistinguishable passive voice.
Not a bad novel but...far from good.
If you haven't read novels similar to this one you might be able to look past its cliches and its poorly orchestrated narrative.

Initially I thought that this book was doing something similar to Everything Here Is Beautiful wh
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars: “The Other Americans” Is an interesting read in that it’s billed a bit like a hit and run mystery that has an immigrant story as background. Or is the hit and run mystery the background of an immigrant’s story? This is a character-driven story that provides background for motivation and opinions/beliefs of each character. All the characters feel not only misunderstood but also marginalized. There are Moroccan immigrants, undocumented working immigrants, and a black woman in a male dom ...more
Judith E
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In addition to the regular convoluted family dynamics of adult children, aging parents, and family tragedy, the Guerraoui’s are Moroccan immigrants dealing with all that comes from being an Arab in America. They are labeled as suspicious from the minute their name is pronounced. Their California is a place where hurtful racial slurs continue to be spoken by ignorant people.

I enjoyed the structure of the book in that each chapter was a first person narrative of each character. Their individual c
switterbug (Betsey)
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My perspective on reading this book is to forgo guessing what is going to happen, or trying to determine how accurate your suspicions. Just dive in and let it gently steal through you. There’s a Who and Why regarding a hit-and-run that resulted in death, which is the ballast of the plot, at least in a pressing sense. The other characters are immediate family or characters connected to the family or incident in some way. “What a fragile thing a heart was. So easy to fool. To break. To stop on imp ...more
Robert Blumenthal
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I became familiar with Laila Lalami through her writings for The Nation, and I have always thought very highly of her as a writer. I read The Moor's Account and was most impressed by her as a novelist as well. And she knocks it out of the park again in this tale depicting the immigrant experience in these United States and all the highs and lows of such.

The tale revolves around the death of a patriarch in a Moroccan American family living near Joshua Tree National Park in the desert in Southern
Roman Clodia
Solid, straightforward, predictable

"The present could never be untethered from the past, you couldn't understand one without the other."

As is the case with the quotation above, this book tells us things that are true but that are hardly original or novel in any way. Part love story, part excavation of family secrets, the plot is precipitated by the hit and run death of Driss, a Moroccan immigrant to America and the father of Nora, one of the main characters.

It's not hard to see where the whole t
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lalami is a versatile writer, to follow The Moor’s Account with this shifting POV novel about love, grief, the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and interconnected lives centered on a Moroccan-American family in a small town in the Mojave Desert. The tone is fairly cool and the characters were flawed enough to be annoying at times, but they kept me going.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I freely admit that I came to this book with expectations. Laila Lalami's last novel was a Pulitzer Finalist and I'd had it on my to-read list for a while so when I got my hands on an advance proof copy of her forthcoming book, I was excited to see what kind of writer she is.

This is not literary fiction. It reads kind of like a formulaic genre mystery trying to be something more. Sometimes the prose is nice. But too often it's cringeworthy. If Lalami was trying for genre mystery, I think she mo
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
This beautifully written novel is about a hit and run that takes place in a small desert town in Southern California. Different narrators tell the story. The main two are Nora Guerraoui, the younger daughter of the victim, a composer who lives in Oakland, and Jeremy, a police officer whom she knew in high school. Their lives become entangled when Nora ends up staying in the community in which her mother lives for some months after the death of her father.

I am not in the habit of blithely awardin
Sotiris Karaiskos
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
When I started reading this book, I confess that it did not draw me very much and I was thinking that I would quickly finish it, put a middle rating to it and I would forget it very quickly. The story begins with a fatal car accident involving individuals from various minorities in the USA, an interesting choice of theme, capable of leading to many interesting thoughts as the mystery of the conditions under which it occurred unfolds. At first, however, I had the impression that the writer would ...more
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Laila Lalami sets herself a formidable challenge in The Other Americans, which focuses on the hit-and-run killing of an elderly Moroccan man in California. The book is narrated by no fewer than nine first-person point-of-view characters (with one random jump into second person), whose voices become indistinguishable from each other. Lalami clearly wants to explore race and immigration in America by focusing not only on the victim, Driss, but on a range of diverse characters who become connected ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay, we can make it official . . . Laila Lalami is the most interesting author of English-language fiction in the world today.

See, the last thing I anticipated when I downloaded "The Other Americans" was a good mystery. I loved "The Moor's Account," her breakthrough novel, which was about a North African slave's experiences with Indian tribes in North America during the Spanish colonial era. Thus I had pigeonholed Ms. Lalami as an author of highbrow historical fiction and I assumed "The Other A
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked Lalami's writing and her characters. While the novel did leave a few strands unconnected and a few characters unrealized, it was still thoroughly satisfying.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
There's so much wrong with this book it's not even funny. I'm trying to figure out where all these 5 stars are coming from and if we all read the same book. This was a classic case of the author doing too damn much and not executing it properly. Every issue was completely surface level. Zenophobia, sexism, racism, drug abuse, you name it. It was dumped into this book. I'm always here for a good family saga but this was not it and a complete fail. At the very far background was a "mystery" and if ...more
Mary Lins
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: complete
Don’t approach “The Other Americans”, by Laila Lalami, as a mystery to solve “who done it”. The hit and run death at the beginning is merely the catalyst for an immediately arresting story about a group of interconnected characters – ordinary Americans – who have a variety of world-views and experiences, many of whom are marginalized and function in the shadows.

The story is fast-paced and told in alternating first-person narratives – almost like interviews – from four years in the future after t
Ana Lopes Miura
Jun 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
A mediocre novel told from nine different points of view which are completely indistinct from one another and that manages to cram together themes of immigration, racism, PTSD, isolation, drug use, alcoholism, infidelity, and family strife without delving into any of them.

A huge disappointment that won’t keep me from reading her other novel, The Moor’s Account, which seems to be universally considered as a great work.
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Other Americans by Laila Lalami 1 3 Jun 11, 2019 04:05PM  

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Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of the novels Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; Secret Son, which was on the Orange Prize longlist; and The Moor's Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalis ...more
“Perhaps memory is not merely the preservation of a moment in the mind, but the process of repeatedly returning to it, carefully breaking it up in parts and assembling them again until we can make sense of what we remember.” 1 likes
“My mother had to leave many traditions behind and the more time passed, the more they mattered to her.” 1 likes
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