The Moor's Account

Laila Lalami
Author Laila Lalami discusses her acclaimed novel The Moor’s Account, a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It retells the story of the fateful 16th-century Narváez expedition to the New World through the eyes of a surviving Moroccan slave.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Program: 
6:30 pm

In 1527, Castilian conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez led a crew of 600 men from Spain to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown.

Only four survived.

The lives of the three Castilian survivors were well chronicled – and some say idealized – by expedition member Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

In The Moor’s Account, Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami imagines the memoir of the fourth survivor: Mustafa ibn Muhammad, the Moroccan slave of one of the explorers.

The Moor’s Account is a novel, but Lalami demonstrates that sometimes it takes a work of fiction to find the truth in our history. In her alternative narrative for a failed expedition, we come to understand that black men played a significant role in exploring the New World and that Native Americans  were not merely silent witnesses to it.

The Moor’s Account was an American Book Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist.


Lalami’s Kansas City Public Library appearance is co-presented by Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods. Lalami’s debut novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, is the Maple Woods campus-wide common read this spring.