FaizanHaq’s Book Discussion on Laila Lalami’sThe Moor’s Account Coverage
By Bridget Fallon
Just Buffalo Literary Center is a non-profit based in Buffalo, NY that has been in operation since 1975. Just Buffalo’s Mission is to create and strengthen communities through the literary arts.
This year is the tenth anniversary of Babel, Just Buffalo’s acclaimed literary series. Over the years, the organization has brought world famous writers including Marjane Satrapi, Laila Lalami and Salman Rushdie to Buffalo.
WNY Muslims founder, Faizan Haq, led a compelling discussion of Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account to thirty people attending the Just Buffalo Literary Center Babel series on Monday, October 24th. Haq told the group (meeting at Betty’s restaurant in downtown Buffalo) the same advice he gives to his students at University of Buffalo and Buffalo State College, which is to summarize, analyze and then criticize a book to get the most out of every page.
To summarize, The Moor’s Account tells the fictional story of the Muslim-Moroccan slave of Cabeza de Vaca, named Estevanico (often referred to in the book as Mustafa) who was one of the four survivors of the Narvaez expedition. Eventually this group of four is found by a squad of Spanish slavers and brought to Mexico City. There, they are asked to provide testimony about their journey—all except the slave, who tells his own story in the novel.
The group of 30 analyzed the book according to its recurring themes. Mustafa’s trials and tribulations demonstrate that time has not changed the harsh nature of humanity. Other topics discussed were the concept of slaves in America versus Islamic cultures, victors writing history, personal emotional baggage and how acquisition of land impacts international relations.
The group criticized the book by noting its slow nature initially.The readersfound it difficult at times to adapt to the book’s manuscript style although it was represented the era. The further into the story the readers got, the deeper they dug into a hole of heartbreak. It was a feeling that lingered long after all the pages were turned.
Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account, will be speaking Wednesday, November 9th at 8PM at Kleinhans Music Hall. For ticket details go to the Just Buffalo Literary Center website, click on the Events/Calendar tab and scroll down to Babel: Laila Lalami.