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The Moor's Account

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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 conquistadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.

321 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2014

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About the author

Laila Lalami

22 books1,376 followers
Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of four novels, including The Moor's Account, which won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and The Other Americans, which was a national bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies. She is the recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. Her new book, a work of nonfiction called Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America,/i> was published by Pantheon in September 2020.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,488 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,385 reviews7,088 followers
May 10, 2017
Mustafa ibn Muhammad is about to discover how fragile are the threads that tie together the fabric of our lives.

The year is 1527, and this once wealthy Moroccan trader has sold himself to a Spanish captain in order that his family may eat. There's a certain irony about this, as Mustafa had been involved in the slave trade himself before his life collapsed around him. That same year the conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez, together with 600 crew, sailed for what is now known as the Gulf Coast in the United States. Mustafa, now known by his slave name Estebanico, is one of them. After arriving in this new world, the men are soon faced with disease, a lack of navigational competence, starvation, and resistance from the indigenous tribes. After one year there are just four survivors. One of them is Estebanico. The Narvaez expedition is well documented, and the surviving slave is mentioned in one of the documents. What the author has done here is taken a factual event and written a fictional tale from the point of view of Estebanico. This is a really well written, absorbing tale, with a different perspective on this historical event.

*Thank you to Goodreads for this first reads giveaway, and to the author for the enjoyment given*
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews28 followers
April 1, 2016
1 slave...a black Arab Moor, 'Mustafa/Estebanico', and three Castilians are the only
survivors from the Narvaez's Expedition from Spain to the gulf of Florida.

The story shifts from an expedition of the territory - to- self-exploring-- (men facing their humanity). This is such a fantastic book which allows you to feel as if you are one of the survivors.
There is less focus on searching for gold and conquering land after almost 600 people have died. With only 4 surviving men, they were forced to rely on the native Indians.They travel together down to the Gulf of Mexico. Soon they become their slaves.... later they source themselves as healers.
The Indians believed Estabanico to be a Shaman who healed the sick.

Estabanico makes a terrific narrator. He was different from the other survivors so he could relate to the native Indians, (what it felt like to be an outcast)...he understood
how they felt. All the characters were well developed - and what made them interesting is that they all kept changing.

Themes of greed, power, trust, guilt, and loyalty, were found throughout.

Strength of character....dignity & resilience is throughout.

This story is both devastating and moving: an adventure as much about the human spirit as it the land to conquer.

History came alive in this historical fiction --in a region I'll be visiting in two days. I think I'll do some exploring myself!

Thank you to my friend **Loretta** for the surprise house delivery... (the gift of this book). I learned a lot about this famous historical journey. The narration by Estebanico was especially wonderful - told with much dignity - warmth and insights into the Spanish, Native American, and Arab cultures exploring --- from different points of view.
Profile Image for Issa Deerbany.
374 reviews409 followers
July 23, 2018
رواية من اجمل ما قرأت
عربي تجبره الظروف ليصبح عبدا لرجل اسباني. وشائت الظروف ان يشارك في حملة استعمارية او استكشافية لملك اسبانيا في منطقة فلوريدا في الولايات المتحدة الامريكية.
طبعا اخبار الحملة تم تاليف عدة كتب لها ولكن برواية الاسبان انفسهم. اما الناجي الاسود العربي لم يتم ذكره الا في سطر واحد فقط لهذا الكتاب الذي الفه احد الناجين الاربعة.

رواية تبين التعامل الوحشي للحملة مع اهل المنطقة والبحث عن الذهب الذي لا يعتبره هنود تلك المنطقة من الاحجار الغالية او النفيسة.

الترجمة ايضا رائعة والاسلوب رائع تقرأ وانت تتخيل انك من افراد الحملة وتتعرض الى الاهوال والمصائب التي يتعرضون لها.
العربي العبد رغم انه سببا في نجاة الثلاثة الاخرين ومنهم سيده الذي وعده بالحرية بعد النجاة, ولكن تغير سيده ولم يعطيه الحرية ولكن صمم على ان ينال حريته بيده وان يعيش حرا منطلقا في البرية التي تعود العيش فيها لثمان سنوات مع قبائل الهنود.

لم يتم التوضيح من اين عثرت المؤلفة على مذكرات الني كتبها صاحب البطولة في الرواية. ولكن ذكر انه كتبها فقط لاظهار الحق امام التاريخ. روايته التي يقول انها حقيقية.

رواية ممتعة وفيها تشويق وترقب
Profile Image for Matt.
919 reviews28.3k followers
November 7, 2016
In Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his epic adventures as part of the ill-fated Narváez Expedition, the Spanish explorer devotes only a single line to Estevanico, one of the four survivors, along with de Vaca:

El cuarto se llama Estevanico, es negro alárabe, natural de Azamor.

Roughly translated, it reads: “The fourth [survivor] is Estevanico, an Arab Negro from Azamor.”

According to Laila Lalami, this is all we know about Estebanico (as she spells it); just a handful of unadorned words.

That is not strictly true, as Lalami herself knows. But her point is well taken. Other than the bare facts of this man’s life – his name, his birthplace, his route – he is lost to history. He was part of an extraordinary journey that blundered through parts of present-day Florida and Texas. Out of some 300 men who began an overland excursion beginning near Tampa Bay, only four men are known to have survived. The rest fell due to starvation, disease, drowning, and Indian attacks. The perseverance of de Vaca and his compañeros comprises one of history’s greatest survival narratives. Yet we are at an absolute loss as to how this affected Estebanico. What did he think about it? How did he feel?

The Moor’s Account steps in to fill all those gaps. It is written as the first-person memoir of Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori and purports to be “a true account of his life and travels from the city of Azemmur to the Land of the Indians.” The novel opens in “the year 934 of the Hegira” (1528). Estebanico – renamed when he became a slave – has landed on the shores of La Florida with his master, Dorantes, part of an expedition led by Panfilo Narváez. Being Spaniards, naturally, they are looking for gold. We join the story at the moment when Narváez makes the fateful decision to split his company in two. One party is to go by land to “Apalache” in search of precious metal; the other is to go by sea, sailing up the coast to meet them. Suffice to say, the two groups did not meet again.

Contemporary rendering of Panfilo Narváez, leader of La Florida expedition.

Lalami initially chooses to tell her story in alternating chapters – each one titled “The Story of [fill in the noun]” – that intersperses Estebanico’s time in America with flashbacks to his life in Morocco. Both timelines are equally well done. The expedition sequences, unsurprisingly, are fraught with drama, much of it centered around the expedition’s encounter with various Indian tribes. There are betrayals, battles, and ambushes as Spanish and Indian come into contact for the first time. Lalami does an exceptional job of evoking the unfamiliar geography, and its disorienting impact on Estebanico and the rest. We follow him into strange villages, across dangerous rivers, and through heavy forests. We are made to feel the heat, the hunger, the mosquitoes. All the while, the expedition is whittled away.

Just keep going left. That's where the Gold Cities are.

The flashback chapters to Azemmur are somewhat quieter, but work to inform us of Estebanico’s life before he became a slave. Lalami lets him trace the arc of his pre-expedition life through a series of vignettes that begin with the story of Estebanico’s birth. He tells how he chose to become a merchant, how he succumbed to greed. He even bought and sold slaves before becoming one himself. These chapters also serve to develop Lalami’s chief theme, that of the power of storytelling to shape our lives. Even as a slave, with little to no legal existence, save that of property, Estebanico uses the tales from his own past to define his humanity. His story is the one thing that cannot be taken from him. (Though, of course, the historical reality is that the stories of non-whites and women have been ignored, lost, or never solicited in the first place).

One of the criticisms I’ve seen of The Moor’s Account is that Estebanico is a univocal character, a man who is almost anachronistic in his progressiveness. He is a friend to the Indians, seeing in them fellow travelers. He studiously avoids the physical and sexual violence perpetrated by the Spaniards. His worldview is, frankly, pretty modern and enlightened. Lalami has also been accused of creating a simplistic, uncomplicated moral universe wherein the whites are villains and the nonwhites are not. Neither critique is entirely apt. Estebanico admits to being a slaver himself, and explores that aspect of his character. He also spends much of his life in thrall to the same gold that motivates the Spaniards. Similarly, the Spanish characters are given a certain dynamism that expands and constricts according to how close to civilization they are. Dorantes, for instance, is a slave master, but is not a mustache-twirling heavy. There comes a point where he and Estebanico are equals.

The survivors of Narváez's disastrous vision await the gold they've been told will come in with the tide.

Besides, it’s asking a bit much for Lalami to go to the effort of putting a marginalized viewpoint front and center, just to make him into a raging asshole. In La Relación, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca made himself the hero of his own story. Isn’t it fair that Estebanico née Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori gets to be the hero in his? The answer to that hypothetical question is supposed to be yes.

With that said, there were some things I didn't like. Occasionally, Estebanico’s voice becomes a bit detached. For instance, he describes an Indian battle with all the fervor of a man describing his breakfast. Obviously, when dealing with a first-person narrator, it’s generally safe to assume that person lives. Still, the disconnectedness of tone tends to flatten the drama and lower the stakes. Lalami also infuses Estebanico with an irritating prudishness. He turns away from describing certain things he sees, especially when it comes to matters of a carnal nature. This is in fitting with the background of an educated Muslim, I suppose. But it also makes Estebanico less-rounded as a person. I mean, doesn’t the guy have urges?

History is tilted in favor of winners over losers, of written traditions over oral traditions. Accordingly, diversity of viewpoint can be difficult to achieve in nonfiction, even if an author is trying his or her best. Millions of stories have disappeared because they were never put to paper; or, if they were written, because they were neglected or lost. One of the top virtues of historical fiction is that it can be used to bridge gaps in our knowledge. Imagination can be used to give life to people we know existed, but who lack a paper trail. Fiction, then, can at times bring us closer to the truth than the most thoroughly researched tome.
Profile Image for Elaine.
785 reviews363 followers
February 16, 2022
Oh dear, I seem stuck in the doldrums a bit - not really passionately engaging with any books recently (except maybe A Little Life, and I'm still not sure whether that engagement was healthy).

Lalami has great raw material for her historical fiction about Estebanico, the first African to explore the Americas (or at least the first so recorded!). Or perhaps I should say she has a great seed - because apparently almost nothing is known about the historical Estebanico, other than that he was a Berber from Morocco who came to North America as a slave in 1527 as part of the Narvaez expedition, and become one of only 4 survivors of that ill-fated journey.

So far so good. Tales of first encounters of all kinds, exploration, hardship, new worlds to discover and conquer. A lot to be fascinated by here.

But I don't think Lalami can quite cut her 21st century ties here (and if you ask me, "who can?", I will say that at a minimum historical fiction writers owe it to their readers to make sure their modern baggage doesn't thump loudly at every step). For Estebanico, that means saintly wisdom and perception. It means being a Black man who perceives himself as such, and thus as an interlocutor between Indian and white. It means that he perceives the wisdom and goodness in Native American cultures and never assumes that either his native Moroccan or his enforced adopted Spanish culture is more civilized or better governed than the Native cultures he encounters. That's mighty enlightened for a man in 2015, never mind one in 1527, and especially surprising for a man from Morocco, a place that was (as alluded to briefly briefly in this novel) a birthplace of both a highly sophisticated empire and an extensive slave trade long before the Europeans could get their act together sufficiently to dream such things.

It was disappointing (to say the least) to see 21st century ideas about race simply transported back in time 600 years. Indeed, I query whether a Native American (meeting for the first time ever members of any other race except his own) upon encountering a Spaniard and a Moroccan, both of who had spent several years living in the open air and weather of all seasons, and who are at this point wearing the same rags, would even recognize those two men as being of different races from each other or whether it is perhaps more likely that he would simply focus on their being "other" from himself. Who can say for sure - but since race is largely socially constructed it seems improbable that its construction would be the same then as now.

Moreover, Estebanico doesn't rape, he doesn't pillage (indeed, he lies awake cringing when his fellows do such things), he doesn't eat human flesh (even when everyone around him is doing it), he doesn't murder. His first sexual encounter in the New World comes in wedlock at the age of 30 with a woman he faithfully treats as his intellectual and political equal and while he's rich in furs, jewels and food, it's because such things have been GIFTED him for his unusual empathy in forging the healing traditions of three cultures - in stark contrast to his conquistadore fellows.

So our hero is a bit too uni-dimensional and 21st century version of perfect for my tastes. Meanwhile, we spend the middle chunk of the book wandering from Native American tribe to Native American tribe (on Kindle at least without any sort of map - an anchoring device that would have been MOST welcome) and after a while the tribes start to seem much the same. All are rather saintly themselves - none practice slavery or other white men's vices - and when Estabenico meets a transgendered person (which we know did exist in some tribes), his reaction is much as you might hope a cultured East Coaster's of the last decade would be.

Again, great source material and a great spark, reasonably well written, but too PC and univocal to interest me as historical fiction.
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
617 reviews338 followers
August 5, 2016
In 1527 ships with six hundred men sailed from Castile across the Ocean of Fog and Darkness with the goal to claim the land and riches of present day Florida and the gulf coast areas of the United States. They were searching for a kingdom of gold but encountered instead, hurricanes, shipwreck, starvation, disease, alligators, murder, cannibalism, and mutiny, while decisively squandering any opportunity to endear indigenous tribes to their cause. Only four would make it out alive.
Their conquest would later be documented by one of them, Cabeza de Vaca. From his testimony, as well as many other sources, the author has composed a fascinating novel based on historical events. The first person narrative is told from the unique perspective of one survivor, Mustafa Zemmouri, aka Estebanico, a black Muslim from northern Africa.
Lalami alternates the first half of the tale with an imaginative story set in his own country and life as a free man prior to enslavement and conscription into this life-altering expedition.
In his praise of this work, writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote “She gives name to the unnamed, agency to the sidelined; she takes them from footnotes into the footprints that make up the pages of this remarkable novel [giving] voice to the silences of history.”
Upon finishing I dug deeper and was pleased to learn that Cabeza de Vaca would return to Spain eight years later and argue for better treatment of the Indians. It was a wasted effort of course, how could needed slaves and riches come from that? It was my belief that the legacy of all Spanish conquistadores was completely merciless so he deserves a shout-out.
I thought I might struggle with this Pulitzer prize finalist. While not exactly a page turner and heavy with historical fact, her prose kept me engaged and it was smooth sailing on a rewarding book adventure. Historical literary fiction at its finest; entertaining, educational, and obviously deserving of the accolades received.
Profile Image for Dianne.
559 reviews909 followers
November 29, 2015
Very interesting and well done historical fiction account of the Spanish Narváez expedition of 1527 that was sent to colonize Florida. Upon sailing into the Tampa area, Narváez (the commander of the armada) split his contingent in two, with half staying in the gulf with the ships and the other half heading north on foot to look for a rich kingdom called Apalache, which supposedly had great quantities of gold and other precious metals. 300 officers, soldiers, friars and settlers set off, only to become lost and permanently separated from the ships that bore them. Over 8 years, the 300 dwindled to 4 through famine, disease, battles with indigenous Indian tribes, enslavement, alligators, and cannibalism. In the course of those 8 years, the 4 survivors - Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, and his enslaved Moor Estebanico – traveled mostly on foot from Tampa, Florida to Mexico City.

Cabeza de Vaca’s 1542 written account of this ordeal (the first written account of North America) make up the bones of Lalami’s story. Her narrator is the Moor slave, Mustafa, renamed Estebanico by his master, Dorantes. Mustafa weaves the fictional story of his life and how he came to become enslaved with the story of the ill-fated expedition. It’s absolutely fascinating. The very best books are the ones that make the past bloom into vivid life and transport you to a lost place and time. I loved learning about the culture and lifestyles of the various southern American and Mexican Indian tribes. And the treachery and callousness of humans - Castillians and Indians alike – will make you shake your head with despair.

This book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction in 2015. I loved it and highly recommend it. It’s not an “easy read” – lots of detail and people to keep track of - but an amazing story.
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,827 followers
February 5, 2018
تصف المترجمة السعودية هيفاء القحطاني عملية الترجمة بأنها تشبه محاولة نقل الأثاث الفاخر من مسكنه القديم إلى مسكنه الجديد بحالة جيدة وبلا خدوش. على الرغم من أن هيفاء تصف عملية الترجمة هنا، إلا أنها، من حيث تشعر أولا تشعر، تصف كذلك عمل المترجمين..وبدقة شديدة. فالمترجم يُنظر له دائمًا على أنه عامل بسيط وظيفته في الحياة نقل الأثاث من مكان إلى آخر، ولذلك لا ينال التقدير والمال الكافيين كما يقول ماركيز في إحدى مقالاته، فإن حدث ونقل المترجم الأثاث من المنزل القديم إلى المنزل الجديد دون أية حوادث، فإن القارئ سينشغل عن شكره بتأمل روعة الأثاث والإشادة بإبداع مصمم الأثاث وشكر الشركة التي قامت بصنعه من أجود أنواع الخشب، دون أن يلتفت إلى المترجم الذي يقف على عتبة الباب وهو يئن من وجع ظهره الذي أثقله نقل الأثاث. بل إن البعض من القراء سيذهب أبعد من ذلك ويقوم بفحص قطع الأثاث جيدًا ليتأكد بأن هذا المترجم لم يعرض الأثاث لأي رضوض أثناء نقله قبل أن يضع في كفه حفنة بائسة من الأموال. وفي حالات أخرى، يكتشف القارئ بأن الأثاث، على الرغم من أنه في حالة سليمة، إلا أنه لا يلائم المنزل الجديد، فيبدأ عوضًا عن لوم مصنع الأثاث ومصممه بتقريع المترجم واتهامه بأنه لم ينقل كل شيء، وأنه ربما أسقط بعض القطع بسبب إهماله أو كسله، لأن شكل الأثاث في المنزل لا يشبه صورته في كاتالوج "إيكيا" عندما قرر شراءه.

ويبدو أن "نوف الميموني"، مترجمة هذه الرواية البديعة، كانت تدرك قبل البدء في نقل هذا العمل، أو الأثاث، من منزله الإنجليزي إلى منزله العربي، بأنها أمام قارئ نزق ينتظر أن تزل قدمها، وتتعثر، وتسقط كرسيًا أو مرآة أو طاولة قهوة، ليبدأ في توبيخها وكتابة رسالة شكوى لمديرها يوضح فيها عدم رضاه عن أدائها لعملها. لذلك لم تكتفي نوف بنقل الأثاث، بل قامت بإعادة تصميم ديكور المنزل وتنسيق الأثاث ووضع القطع بشكل قد يكون مختلفًا عن ترتيبها في المنزل الإنجليزي، ولكنه حول البيت العربي إلى تحفة فنية جميلة وأنيقة.

ما قامت بعمله نوف الميموني في هذه الرواية، هو إعادة خلق، لا نقل فقط، للنص الأصلي، فعوضًا عن ترجمته بشكل مباشر من اللغة الإ��جليزية إلى اللغة العربية، اختارت كما تقول في مقدمة الكتاب، ترجمة الرواية بمحاكاة أسلوب الرحالة العرب في كتب الرحلات القديمة (مثل ابن بطوطة والإدريسي)، من أجل الحفاظ على أبعاد النص الثقافية، وهذا ما دفعها للرجوع لكتب التراث للوقوف على الأساليب والاسماء والأوصاف المستعملة في هذا السياق

عندما أنهيت الرواية قمت كعادتي بكتابة مراجعة عنها، وقبل أن أضغط زر الإرسال أعدت مراجعتها للتأكد من عدم وجود أخطاء لغوية، ولحظتها شعرت بالخجل الشديد لأنني أدركت بأنني لم أكتب كلمة شكر واحدة للمترجمة، لذلك قررت حذف ما كتبته وتكريس المراجعة للحديث عن الترجمة .. وبتعبير آخر قررت شكر المترجمة بطريقتي الخاصة. شكرًا لك نوف الميموني ولكل المترجمين الذين في غمرة إعجابنا بالأثاث نسينا أن نلتفت إليكم ونبتسم قائلين .. شكرًا.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,377 reviews1,437 followers
August 24, 2017
The Moor's Account is a historical fiction novel about Pánfilo de Narváez's expedition into the land that would eventually be called Florida.

This tale is told from the point of view of a slave named Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico by the Spanish man who owned him.

"This book is the humble work of Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori, being a true account of his life and travels from the city of Azemmur to the Land of the Indians, where he arrived as a slave and, in his attempt to return to freedom, was shipwrecked and lost for many years. pg 9, ebook.

Though the historical figure of Estebanico actually existed, Laila Lalami writes that she invented the majority of this story. The real Estebanico was only granted one line or so in the written history of the failed expedition.

"I was also curious about this land because I had heard, or overheard, from my master and his friends, so many stories about the Indians. The Indians, they said, had red skin and no eyelids; they were heathens who made human sacrifices and worshipped evil-looking gods; they drank mysterious concoctions that gave them visions; they walked about in their natural state, even the women- a claim I found so hard to believe that I had dismissed it out of hand." pg 12, ebook.

Imagine the culture shock of the two different civilizations coming together- the European and the New World. The Moor's Account explores that through Mustafa's unique personal experience.

Mustafa's early life is told in flashbacks throughout the beginning of the book. His mother likes to instruct him about the realities of life through stories. "Nothing new has ever happened to a son of Adam, she said. Everything has already been lived and everything has already been told. If only we listened to stories." pg 58, ebook. If only we listened to stories... right, readers?

"I thought of what the elders teach us: love is like a camel's hump, for it cannot be disguised." pg 180, ebook. Though dismissive of his mother's methods, much of the way Mustafa interprets reality is told through metaphors or stories.

"Maybe there is no true story, only imagined stories, vague reflections of what we saw and what we heard, what we felt and what we thought. Maybe if our experiences, in all of their glorious, magnificent colors, were somehow added up, they would lead us to the blinding light of truth." pg 323, ebook.

It is easy to see why The Moor's Account was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It is unique, layered and beautiful. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction and memoirs. Though fiction, it reads as if it really happened. And, who knows, maybe in some form or another, it actually did.
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,767 followers
March 20, 2017
ما رواه المغربي

في إطار الاكتشافات الإسبانية للعالم الجديد تخرج حملة سنة 1527 م مكونة من 350 شخص وبقيادة بانفيلو دي نارفاييز، تستهدف هذه الحملة المنطقة التي صارت تعرف الآن بولاية فلوريدا، تفقد أخبار الحملة لمدة ثمانية أعوام عندما يعود أربعة رجال فقط، يقوم أحدهم وهو كابيزا دي فاكا بكتابة تقرير عن الحملة يقدم لملك إسبانيا، ترد في ذلك التقرير إشارة صغيرة إلى أن أحد الأربعة الناجين ليس إلا عبد مغربي يدعى إستبانكو أو مصطفى الأزموري، نسبة إلى مدينة أزمور المغربية.

من هذه الإشارة تعيد الكاتبة الأمريكية من أصل مغربي (ليلى العلمي) بناء قصة الحملة، ساحبة مصطفى الأزموري من الهامش، لتجعله شاهدنا الأساس على الحملة، هكذا نتعرف على قصة حياة بطلنا منذ ولادته في أزمور وحتى بيعه كعبد في مدينة إشبيلية فمرافقته لحملة نارفييز المشؤومة وكل ما تعرض له من مخاطر في تلك الأراضي الجديدة والمتوحشة، لا تتطابق الرواية التي يقدمها الأزموري مع ما رواه دي فاكا، فالتقرير الذي يقدم للملك يجب أن يظهر بشكل جيد، بحيث تلقى الأخطاء على عواتق الموتى، من هنا تقدم لنا ليلى العلمي متحررة من التأريخ رواية جديدة للحملة، رواية تخيلية كتبت بطريقة فاتنة.

حظيت الرواية بترجمة ممتازة من الأستاذة نوف الميموني، بلغة تراثية تناسب روح النص وزمن الرواية وهو خيار منهك للمترجم ولكنه يمنح الرواية ألقاً وجواً يذكرنا برحلات ابن بطوطة.
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,737 reviews650 followers
October 12, 2018
To his Spanish masters he was always known as Estebanico, a diminutive form of the name Esteban. Yet his name was Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori and he is the one telling this tale of attempted conquest and enrichment gone wrong.

"I had put my life in the hands of others and now here I was, at the edge of the known world, lost and afraid. All along, I had told myself that I did not have a choice, that I had been the one to put myself into bondage and I had to accept this fate. Somehow I had also convinced myself that my redemption could only come from some force outside of me—that if I were useful to others, they would save me. What a terrible thing to believe. I had to stop playing a part in my own misery. I had to save my own life."

We see the hubris and ignorance with which these Castilians “invade” Florida. Each is out for gain and fame, often at the expense of others in the group. "This was what made the governor’s choice so clever. If the mission succeeded, our struggles would be forgotten when the history of La Florida was told; if the mission failed, he would not be alone to bear the responsibility for its failure."

Our narrator not only tells us about this journey but about his whole life before he found it necessary to sell himself into slavery and leave North Africa. Lalami has done her research in giving us a very detailed picture of everyday life in the fading Muslim empire and the impact of a rejuvenated Christian Spain on both that part of the world and its exploration of the “new world.”

If this brilliant concept has not been fully realized, I am not going to call out Lalami for trying. History, we all know, is mostly written by the winners and it is often to glorify certain individuals. Rarely do we even have a mention of those “little people” without who the “great ones” would not have had their triumphs. In this case, our author is digging into one of the strangest efforts at conquest that the Spanish Empire ever mounted. Less than one percent of the over 600 men who came to conquer Florida survived.

"We all grew quiet as we contemplated the mounds. It was one thing to lose men to a swamp, a river, or a battle with the Indians, and quite another to lose them to the fever. An accident could be easily dismissed as a rare occurrence, a stroke of bad luck. As for combat, we had each conceived a reason why we had been spared: we had fought valiantly or had better weapons or had found a good place to hide. But disease did not discriminate—it could strike the rich as well as the poor, the brave as well as the coward, the wise as well as the fool. Disease leveled all the differences between us and united us in a single abiding fear."

Eventually the remaining members of the mission have to adopt a different approach to the indigenous tribes. Their need for food and information led first to trade, and when their meager supplies were exhausted it led to begging and a form of servitude. Lalami doesn’t paint with a broad brush. Each tribe has its own customs and way of surviving. Those that note that the Spaniards have brought disease react in different ways. The remaining Spaniards also break into different groups, some still intending to conquer and others trying to adapt. Our narrator, “Estebanico,” becomes more valuable all the time as his facility with languages makes him the interface. Eventually, he can no longer be treated as a slave. However this doesn’t make him a leader. The roles are still too grounded in the Empire’s cultural traditions.

He has his doubts: "Sometimes, I thought of letting go, too. Sitting under the shade of a poplar tree as the company took its midday break, I wondered what would happen to me if I was infected with the fever and perished in this land. Who would wash my body for burial? Who would commend my soul to God? Who would mourn me?"

Later: "Chaubekwan taught me that, just as unfounded gossip can turn into sanctioned history if it falls in the hands of the right storyteller, an untested cure could become effective if the right shaman administered it. From him, I learned how to grind roots without destroying their power, how to store medicinal plants, how to prepare various poultices, but also how to wear a costume and entice a patient to drink a bitter potion."
His role as a healer expands as the remaining party moves west. Finally they reach the boundaries of New Spain and begin their re-acclimation into the Spanish hierarchy. As they do, they have to decide how much of their experience to defend and how much of their knowledge it is necessary to retain.

This is a brilliant recapitulation of this obscure, but significant, expedition. My main criticism is where Estebanico is simply the voice of the author and not quite “in character.” Here is an example: "In Arabic, the name Guadalajara evoked a valley of stones, a valley my ancestors had settled more than eight hundred years earlier. They had carried the disease of empire to Spain, the Spaniards had brought it to the new continent, and someday the people of the new continent would plant it elsewhere."

As “historical fiction,” this novel attempts to illuminate history not to change it. This means that there is a great deal of inevitability to the arc of this story. Those familiar at all with the “La Florida” expedition know what became of it and those who were part of the expedition. Yet, this book triumphs over that inevitability with a rich narrative of what could have been seen and experienced by those who survived and, one person who sees it all in a different light.
Profile Image for Shannon.
121 reviews101 followers
February 14, 2017
My next read is well underway, but I am still thinking about this brilliant novel, which I finished a week ago. I got so much more than I planned for. I read a library copy and am planning to buy a copy for my bookshelf. I hope to find time to pull together a review for this one within the next week or so...
Profile Image for Beverly.
1,638 reviews342 followers
October 15, 2014
I was looking forward to reading this book when I first heard that Laila Lalami would write a fictionalized account of Estebanico as I knew she would provide the necessary insight on Morocco and a Moroccan point-of-view of the 1500s. This book exceeded my expectations. There are many accounts of the Narvaez expedition and what happened in the years 1527 – 1536, when the four survivors (out of 600) were reunited with other Spaniards. Among the survivors was a Moroccan slave known in the accounts by his enslaved name Esteban or Estebanico. At last is a compelling historical fiction account giving a voice to the first known black explorer of the New World. I enjoyed how Lalami through her graceful language and journal-like format places the reader in the narrator’s hands, giving him an identity other than a slave – Mustafa al-Zamori. The beginning alternates with chapters of all the pomp and arrogance of the Spaniards decisions and Mustafa telling his life before he was a slave allowing us to see the complex layered reality of his situation. Wonderful storytelling and a fresh robust take of an arduous adventure makes this a book to be read by all interested in early American history and conquest. As the saying goes – the only new history is history yet to be discovered and I graciously thank the author for her time and research for a thoughtful informative book.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,545 followers
December 7, 2019
The Moor's Account nearly beat the lacklustre All the Light We Cannot See in 2015 and it must have been a mediocre year because I was not blown away by Laila Lalami's historical fiction account of the ill-fated Navaez expedition. I thought the narrator was always a bit too naïve, too good, too perfect. The Castilians were reprehensible as one would expect all the way to the end. I don't know, I mean, the idea was original, the format interesting, but I guess I have been spoiled by the writing of Roth, Updike, Pynchon, and even Marlon James. I was not blown away by the descriptions of Mexico and the West as I was with the equally sparse and yet more evocative text of Cormac McCarthy. And again, I never got attached to the characters.
Well, perhaps I need to set it aside and read it again sometime, for now it is back to Roth and Sabbath's Theater...

As for the 2015 Pulitzer, Let Me Be Frank With You was a far better book than either Lalami's or the awful winner. I have not read Lovely, Dark, Deep, so I don't know if it would have been a better choice either.
Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
875 reviews2,417 followers
September 20, 2018
إنها الحرفية في السرد وتلك الخلاقية التي ترسم خطوطها المتقاطعة وتنسج صورة لقصة حقيقية تتماهى مع الخيال فتصبح أمام نص مصاب بهوس الإنجذاب اللاإرادي
هذه الرواية التي تتوالد خيالاتها من القرن الخامس عشر لقصة رجل بربري أصبح عبداً بمحض إرادته لينتقل هذا المغربي إلى إلى أحد أهم الممالك التي كانت في العصور الوسطى " مملكة قشتالية "|في الشمال الإسباني والتي ذاع صيتها حينها وفيما بعد وأصبح لديها ميول توسعية لنفوذها من خلال الغزوات والحملات التي كانت تنظمها....ومن هنا سوف تحاك الرواية في رحلات وحكايا سرمدية لا مثيل لها
هذه الرواية وبرغم الجمالية السردية التي منحتها لنا الكاتبة ليلى العلمي ،يجب أن يكون شكرها موصولاً بالترجمة البديعة لنوف الميموني والمجهود الذي بذل ...m. رائعة
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
630 reviews382 followers
May 14, 2017
I worried that I had made a huge mistake with this audiobook in its first few minutes.

See, right off the bat, Mustafa ibn Muhammad ibn Abdussalam al-Zamori’s verbose introduction to his account sets the stage for a historical fiction novel with really pretty prose. The rub: I’m relatively new to the audiobook scene, but the more interesting the writing, the more likely I am to want to read it rather than listen to it.

Audiobooks can have a tendency to slip into the background over long periods of listening. Sometimes I find there’s just no time to contemplate what I’ve just heard. This worked well for me during William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, where you could slip out of the story for 30 seconds or so and slide right back into the narrative.

But The Moor’s Account had me straight sketching out the gate. Had I made a mistake?

Dear reader, worry not for my concerns were unfounded! Neil Shah’s narration brings to life the characters of Laila Lalami’s novel. His adoption of different accents and cadences for different characters was stunning; really, it is more of a performance than a perfunctory reading of the story. I also found it excellent to hear Shah properly pronounce the names of characters or places that would have just become a blur in my reading.

The prose, though beautiful, was actually quite pleasant to listen to as Mustafa’s voice took over the story. The consistent viewpoint of Mustafa from the alternating expedition/childhood sections of the early book through to the exploration and horrors of the later story anchored me throughout what could have been a tedious read. Of course, under Lalami’s deft pen, the tale soars.

Mustafa’s fictionalized memoir seeks to illuminate the travels of the purported first black explorer of America. Thematically, the novel tackles some pretty hefty literary themes: slavery, redemption, colonialism, doing what is right, the pursuit of family, freedom, and happiness. I mean, no wonder this was a Pulitzer finalist! My favorite sections were the early ones set in Morocco where Lalami’s depiction of Azamor built a city in the scant pages devoted to it. Though, that’s not to say that the sections in Florida are by any means dull.

My complaints are few, though I did find that the middle section drags as Mustafa and his companions move from tribe to tribe. Though there are some things that set these visitations apart, I found that the novel slipped into repetition during this section that lost my attention most often. Conversely, I enjoyed this setting and time period quite a bit. I can’t remember any other novel I’ve read set in the 1500’s that dealt with Spanish colonialism.

I found myself thinking on a novel I read last year as I listened to this novel: English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. Both are tales of colonialism that don’t shy away from the atrocities committed by explorers to foreign lands while also highlighting truly noble characters. Both also impressed me throughout the reading/listening experience, though I wasn’t truly blown away by either of them.

Having said that, I really liked The Moor’s Account. A buddy of mine had been on my back to read this one, and I’m glad I finally took his advice. Though the narrative can be slow moving at points, Mustafa’s character arc is captivating and kept me interested throughout. The side characters feel believable and they too help the more horrifying beats of the story land emotionally, where as in less talented hands they would only serve as torture porn.

So: this is a good one! I think a lot of you will like The Moor’s Account and it is definitely a great audiobook for a long drive. I listened to the whole thing over 13 hours and two days of driving, and was sad that it would be the last I’d hear of Mustafa, but also satisfied with the ending.

[Review of Audiobook]
Profile Image for Meike.
1,518 reviews2,464 followers
October 16, 2022
Winner of the American Book Award
Nominated for the Pulitzer as well as the Booker Prize

This is the fictional memoir of Moroccan Mustafa Zamori, slave name "Estebanico", who had to join his Spanish master Andrés Dorantes de Carranza on the 16th century Narváez expedition, a colonial tour of murder, torture, and exploitation that was only survived by four of the original ca. 600 members, Mustafa and his enslaver being two of them - needless to say, the white men told their stories about being the first non-Native people to see the Mississippi River, and to cross the Gulf of Mexico and Texas as respected "explorers", while Mustafa became more the object than the subject of myths and folktales, a projection surface. Lalami is now trying to give him a voice.

In the first half of the novel, chapters alternate between the expedition and flashbacks describing Mustafa's life until that point, then the story progresses in a straightforward manner. While Lalami does a great job illustrating Mustafa's absurd situation - an enslaved Black man from Africa as a member of a colonial endeavor in South America -, it's the parts about his past that are really captivating, and the details of the expedition start to blur and feel repetitive.

Aesthetically, the novel draws from Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, written by the leader of the actual expedition, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Arabic traditions, and it's generally fun to read, although the pacing is frequently off, which, together with the excessive length, tested my patience.

All in all, a decent adventure novel which challenges classic narratives about the Narváez expedition.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
911 reviews7,390 followers
November 19, 2017
ما رواه المغربي.....ليلى العلمي

هي رواية مغربي حرن باع حريته لينقذ أهله من الموت جوعًا، فرضي بالعبودية حياة، ليترك حياة بلاده وليسافر إلى أندلس مفقود، ويصبح تحت إمرة سيد إسباني يضعه الحظ في بعثة للعالم الأمريكي الجديد، بحثًا عن ثروة ومجد، ليكتشفوا عالم جديد لهم، ويضع هو روايته عما حدث.

دائما تكتشف جديد عند القراءة عما يخص بلاد الأندلس، وهنا نجد سيرة الأندلس بعيدة عن أحداث العمل متصلة به اتصال قوي، فنجد البعثة أسبانية مليئة بالعبيد والجنود والأسياد، ونجد أحداث متصلة والأهم نجد رواية لما كان يحدث في العالم الجديدز

الرواية بديعة وجميلة كما ينبغي للجمال أن يكونن بترجمة رشيقة متناسقة للغاية مع جو العمل وزمنه للدرجة التي تنسى فيها أنك تقرأ عمل مترجمن والكاتبة كانت متمكنة من اصول العمل فقدمت صورة حية متقنة لما تكتب عنه ليخرج لنا في أكمل صورة.

رواية فيها العمق النفسي والوصف البديع والارتباط بالزمان والمكان بطريقة تدمجك في العمل فلا تشعر معه بأي عطب يعيقك عن الاستمتاع بها.

Profile Image for Emily Coffee and Commentary.
379 reviews111 followers
May 9, 2022
An incredibly interesting and informative saga of exploration and perseverance in the new world. Told in lyrical and honest tones, we see our narrator transition from an enslaved former merchant to an explorer, a healer, and finally, a free man who finds love. This story was not only beautiful, but incredibly relevant as it sheds light on a seldom learned part of history. Recommended.
Profile Image for da AL.
366 reviews365 followers
May 14, 2017
Phenomenal - well written, insightful, thoroughly researched. The audio reader was stupendous as well - aside from a few misprounounced words, he did an amazing job portraying the numerous characters.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,469 reviews565 followers
April 22, 2018
[4+ stars] A riveting, action-packed tale based on the Narváez expedition from Spain to the Americas in the early 1500s. The storyteller is "The Moor" who gives his account of their adventures and his life before slavery.

I read in Lalami's acknowledgments that the novel was inspired by one line in Cabeza de Vaca's chronicles of the expedition: "The fourth [survivor] is Estevancico, an Arab Negro from Azamor." Very well done.
Profile Image for jo.
613 reviews489 followers
February 7, 2017
the sweetest, most lovely thing of this book is the voice of mustafa/estebanico, the narrator, who goes through hell and back but never loses faith, compassion and grace. he's the magnificent moral center of this novel, what makes reading it, in spite of its horrors, tolerable and moving. all books about horror need the tenderness of a voice like estebanico's. we cannot endure horror without a virgil walking us through it. estabenanico has the gentleness and moral gravitas of virgil.

and you may find this a fault, cuz he pretty much never fucks up. but, as he poignantly says at the end, this is a story, this is his story, and (and this is me) this story needs a hero, and the hero needs to be him. there is no other possible hero. i thank authors everywhere who gives us a guiding light in books that take us on journeys through the dark heart of humanity.

this is a story about whiteness and empire. this is the brutal exposé of how people with power and awareness of power -- people with arrogance and entitlement and an unshakable sense of their superiority -- decided the non-european world was theirs for the taking and the people who lived in it were as relevant to this decision as grass, trees, and buffalo. they saw them and they did not see human beings. i'm writing this review on the day after the charlotte shooting of keith lamont scott and two days after the tulsa shooting of terence clutcher. i'm writing this as powerful political and economical forces are doing their damnedest to build a massive oil pipeline through native communities that use that land for drinkable water. i'm writing this a week or so after bulldozers tore up an ancient native burial ground. if that doesn't click with you think of bulldozers from a powerful corporation digging up arlington overnight so that an oil facility may be built there. what lalami describes in her book continues today.

you have never read a "conquest of america" written like this. and i think you should read it, bc you need all the moral guidance you can get during our current world war (conducted inside nations and between nations), whose actors are arrogant and entitled white people and the increasingly desperate hordes of brown people who flee them for their lives, and in the process get brutalized, dehumanized, and killed.

Profile Image for Waheed Rabbani.
Author 19 books23 followers
December 4, 2014
In 1527, conquistador Narváez sails from Spain for Florida with an armada of 600 men. His objective is to capture that region for the Spanish crown and become rich and famous like Hernán Cortés. After landing, they decide to divide into two groups: one to sail along the coast to a port, and the other to march northwards onto native Indian lands. The inland unit encounters many hardships. They have to endure swamps, disease, starvation, and skirmishes with hostile Indians. With dwindling numbers and supplies, they desperately wander for eight years westward, attempting to sight their ships. Eventually the party is reduced to four: three Castilians and an African Moorish slave, Mustafa/Estebanico.

While the chronicle written by Cabeza de Vaca (one of the survivors) narrated the story of the ill-fated Narváez expedition, surprisingly it contains only a one-line mention of the African slave: “The fourth is Estavanico, an Arab Negro from Azamor.” Laila Lalami, using the tools of historical fiction, has superbly rectified this omission by penning an account of Mustafa/Estebanico’s experiences. Furthermore, Lalami – as mentioned in an interview she conducted with Radius of Arab-American Writers (RAWI) – had noted certain silences in Vaca’s text with respect to relationships with the natives, particularly women.

This novel explores, through Mustafa/Estebanico’s first-person voice, the moments of contact and interactions between the Spanish and Indians. The brutality on both sides is evenly recited. The flora and fauna are evocatively presented, as are the lives of the natives. This is indeed a “brilliantly imagined fiction… that feels very like the truth,” as Salman Rushdie has written. Lalami, an acclaimed novelist, has scripted this book sans quotation marks, a style that feels appropriate for this intimate narrative. In particular, the added glimpses of Mustafa’s Moroccan life and family—to whom he constantly longs to return—make us root for him and turn the pages wishing for their reunion. Highly recommended.

Waheed Rabbani is a historical fiction author whose novels are available on Amazon and elsewhere.

NOTE: This review first appeared in the print magazine Historical Novel's Review, Issue 69, August 2014
Profile Image for Monica.
594 reviews622 followers
December 31, 2020
Well that was very different than what I expected. I was thinking it would be more biblical...as in the wise men and Israel/Africa etc. Hmmm probably should have read the summary:
"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. [sic] Within a year there were only four survivors..."

In retrospect, it's good that I didn't read the summary or else I might not have picked it up. Historical fiction this far back is generally not my cuppa. Slave narratives are generally not my cuppa. But this was very different and really drew me in as the story progressed. As in the conquerors became the slaves and the slave became the "redeemer" of sorts. This was an ill fated expedition to Florida and the indigenous tribes the men meet in order to survive. Lalami doesn't seem too interested in battles, brutality and death and torture so she didn't linger on the subjects too long. Personally I appreciate that, though it does take away from the realism. I did not realize this story was based on a real life expedition in which "the moor" has a complete sentence in the written history. Those words basically detailing his name and the fact that he was not Spanish. Barely a footnote in history. With such a blank canvas, Lalami extrapolated.

On the whole I thought it was an interesting story and though for me it began a little slow, I grew more and more engaged and invested as the story went on. In the end, I thought it was great. There will be more Lalami in my future.

4 Stars

Listened to Audible. Neil Shah was good.
Profile Image for عبدالرحمن عقاب.
680 reviews767 followers
August 6, 2017
روايةٌ مترجمة لكاتبةٍ أميركية من أصلٍ عربي. تتحدث فيها بلسان مغربي كان مستعبدًا لدى ‏الأسبان الذين غزوا العالم الجديد (أميركا الجنوبية) سعيًا وراء الذهب. وقد استندت الكاتبة –‏حسب قولها ومراجعها- إلى تاريخٍ حقيقي وشخصيةٍ ح��يقية ورد ذكرها لمامًا في إفادة أحد القادة ‏الموفدين لتنشئ من ذلك روايتها بأحداثها وشخوصها الثانوية. ‏
عرضت الرواية لذلك الغزو وما لقي فيه المستعمر من أهوال دخول أراضٍ جديدة، وما لقي فيه ‏أصح��ب البلاد الآمنين على أيدي ذلك المستعمر. وقد كان ذلك في زمن سقوط الأندلس، وقد ‏ربطت الكاتبة بينهما بمهارةٍ وسلاسة من خلال شخصية الراوي المغربي.‏
الرواية جميلة السرد، تأخذك إلى عالمها بسلاسةٍ وبراعة قصصية، إلا أنّ النهاية كانت –برأيي- ‏مفاجئة وسريعة لا تتناسب مع أحداث الرواية ككلّ. غير أنّه يمكن فهمها من خلال توقّع ما يلي من ‏مصير أهل تلك البلاد. ‏
كانت الأخطاء الإملائية الكثيرة (بالهمزات على وجه التحديد) و بعض الأخطاء النحوية أسوأ ما ‏في الرواية على الإطلاق . فأيّ تحريرٍ ومراجعة لغوية حظيت بها الرواية في دار النشر؟! ‏

Profile Image for Joy D.
1,901 reviews220 followers
January 8, 2022
“It was slowly dawning upon all of us that Apalache had no gold and there would be no glory. My fantasies of victory for my master and freedom for me had turned so completely awry that, for a moment, all my senses felt numb. I was rooted in my spot, unable to move, and my eyesight blurred. I thought about that night, long ago in Azemmur, when I had agreed to sell my life for a bit of gold. My father and my mother had both warned me about the danger of putting a price on everything, but I had not listened. Now, years later, I had convinced myself that, because I had been the first to find gold in La Florida, my life would be returned to me. But life should not be traded for gold—a simple lesson, which I had had to learn twice.”

This book is a fictionalized story based on a real expedition that took place in 1527 - 1536. Lalami creates a story around Mustafa, “The Moor,” a survivor of the Narváez expedition. His goal is to write what truly happened to the explorers sent to claim La Florida for the King of Spain. He intends to refute the “official” account, provided by Cabeza de Vaca, which leaves out anything that makes the explorers seem less than heroic.

As the story opens, protagonist Mustafa is living in Morocco with his mother, father, and brothers. He is an educated man who becomes a merchant, but when circumstances change, he feels he must sell himself into slavery to feed his family. He is renamed Estebanico by Spanish priests. He is purchased by a Spaniard who then offers him to Dorantes to pay a gambling debt. Dorantes takes him to the New World as part of the Narváez expedition.

This is the type of historical fiction I really enjoy. It is an adventure, filled with travels among the native peoples. We get a sense of what life was like in the 1500s in North America. It is believable that the official account would leave out anything that reflected poorly on those telling the story. It is based on the author’s extensive research, with sources provided in the appendix.

Toward the end, there are groups of Indians following the explorers, when they reconnect with the Spanish in Mexico. I felt like I wanted to warn them not to follow! Readers will know this part of history does not turn out well for them. The author made me care deeply about the protagonist and the native people of this historic period. I loved it!
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,087 reviews222 followers
April 6, 2016
Fascinating historical fiction detailing one of the first encounters of Spain with the New World and told through the eyes of a slave. Heartbreaking yet hopefully. Beautiful yet brutal. Highly recommend this.
Profile Image for أشرف فقيه.
Author 12 books1,587 followers
December 22, 2016
عمل رائع!
تستلهم ليلى العلمي وتبني هنا على قصة حياة استيفانيكو الأزموري، الذي ولد بسم مصطفى الزموري وعرف بأنه أول عربي ولد في شمال أفريقيا وزار أراضي العالم الجديد (أميركا) عام 1527م إبان استكشافها من قبل الأوروبيين. وهي هنا محظوظة في العثور على قصة جاهزة على النحو الذي حصل مع أمين معلوف و (ليون الأفريقي).. لكن الحظ وحده لا يكفي -قطعاً- لتقديم عمل روائي مميز.

لا شك بأن تقاطع سقوط الأندلس مع اكتشاف العالم الجديد (أميركا) على يد الإسبان محرض على ابتكار حبكات مدهشة. وقد برعت ليلى العلمي هنا في خلق قصة يرويها المملوك الأندلسي مناقضاً التاريخ الذي اختلقه سادته القشتاليون لرحلتهم المدهشة في أراضي فلوريدا وما تحتها.. وكل واحدة من تلكم التفاصيل تكشف مقدار الدهشة التي تحملها الرواية.

لكن هذه أكثر من سردية تاريخية للأحداث. وإذا كانت ليلى العلمي تتكيء على صدفة تاريخية مدهشة، فإنها تستخدمها لتقارب أزمة دائمة؛ من الحاكم ومن المحكوم؟ السيد والتابع؟ وكيف يتقلبان بتقلب الصروف والتعمق في استكشاف جوهر الحياة. تكاد تكون الرواية محاكمة للشر الإسباني المتمثل في المستعمر والمسترجع الذي حارب العرب وحارب سكان أميركا الأصليين، لكنها لا تخلو من مساءلة لسلوك "المتمكن" العربي كذلك.. إذا ما أتيحت له الفرصة وواكبته الظروف. هذه إذاً رواية تحاكم أخلاقيات المنتصر.. وهي تفعل ذلك ببراعة وبسرد ربما يفتقد الحرارة أحياناً لكنه لا يخلو من مفاجآت.
Profile Image for Rosalinda .
64 reviews36 followers
October 12, 2021
Reading this book gave me a different perspective on the colonization of Mexico and the Spanish influence in Florida. I have enrolled in courses that focused on Cortes, his experiences in Mexico, and the Aztecs. I've also read Aztec by Gary Jennings, although that was many years ago.
I've always been fascinated with this part of history and The Moor's Account offered me a new version of the account of colonialism in Mexico and parts of the U.S. The Moorish/African influence has obviously been overlooked. My intent now is to learn more of the reason for this not only to better understand myself but to hopefully give voice to those stories and people who were ignored. I'm not sure how I'll accomplish this yet but reading, researching and discovering more of what has already been written is a start.
As I grow older, my quest to understand my ancestry in all its rich variety, has become crucial to me. This historical fiction book was an excellent introduction on this subject.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
363 reviews90 followers
August 22, 2016
This book was a pleasure to read. A first-person account from a Muslim slave, dragged over the ocean by his Spanish master, to explore North America.

I love stories about Native Americans, specifically during the period of time when they're first meeting the white interlopers that eventually...well...you know. I also love survival tales. I also-also love fish-outta-dat-water tales. And I especially love tales told by non-Christians thrust into Christian life, all head-scratchy and "WTF?" over the silly little hypocrisies that God-fearing Christians will kill for.

This hits alllllllllll of that, and the narrator has such a thoughtful, considerate voice. This was wonderful.
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