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Laila Lalami's 'Love Affair' With The English Language


Author Laila Lalami has written three novels, including The Moor’s Account, which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer. She also regularly provides commentary and essays for media outlets such as NPR, The Nation, and The Los Angeles Times, among many others.

She’s speaking in Reno Friday night at Sundance Bookstore at 6 p.m. and caught up with our contributors Alan Deutschman and Christina Barr for a preview of her talk.

Born in Morocco, Lalami started out speaking Arabic as her native language, but she grew up as a child and young adult reading and writing in French at a French school. Then in college, she transitioned to composing research papers in English.

“It wasn’t something I planned, but I feel that I’ve had kind of a love affair with the English language for the past twenty years,” she says.

Lalami’s writing often examines the spaces where diverse cultures encounter each other, something she attributes to the facts of her own life. She came to the U.S. for graduate school and had planned on returning home, but she ended up meeting someone and getting married. Now, she writes and teaches at the University of California at Riverside.

“I’ve adopted this country and made it mine, and that is something that I think has created a change in me as a person,” Lalami explains. “You know, it’s not possible for me to look at a set of events just as a Moroccan, but I think of them also as an American, so there’s a sense of duality that runs through my entire life.”

As note of disclosure, we should mention that Christina Barr is the executive director of Nevada Humanities, which is hosting the event.

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