Laila Lalami’s vibrant historical novel is about one of the only four survivors of a failed 16th-century expedition to colonise Spanish Florida.
Estebanico, a Moroccan slave, is one of the very few survivors of the doomed Narváez expedition. Of the four, his was the only testimony left off the record. Lalami gives us Estebanico as history never did: as Mustafa, the vibrant merchant from Azemmur forced into slavery and a new name, and reborn as the first black explorer of the Americas. In Estebanico’s telling, the survivors’ journey across the New World transforms would-be conquerors into servants and outcasts into faith healers.
About the AuthorEnglish is Laila Lalami’s fourth language. Born in Morocco, she first spoke Moroccan Arabic, before learning Standard Arabic and French – the language of her first writings – and only then English.