UC Riverside creative writing professor Laila Lalami was recently named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in fiction — an award given to American authors for literary achievements — for her book entitled “The Moor’s Account,” a work of historical fiction that sheds light on a side of history that Lalami feels is too often overlooked.
The book, which took her four and a half years to write, tells the story of Estebanico — a Moroccan slave who is said to be the first black explorer of America — on a 16th century Spanish expedition to the New World. What compelled her to tell Estebanico’s story, she said, was history’s sidelining of people like him. “At the heart of my novel is a concern with history — who writes it and who is erased from it,” she said.
Although Lalami did not receive the Pulitzer, she was one of only three finalists for this category. “It’s a huge honor for me,” she said. “And it’s also a special delight for me to see Estebanico receive a bit of recognition, even if it is in the form of a novel.”
“The Moor’s Account” is also a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, the winner of which will be announced in October of this year.
Notable Pulitzer winners include Harper Lee and Toni Morrison.