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CLA Presents: Laila Lalami
March 18, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDTFree
What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize–finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race, and gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today.
Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.
Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.
Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She the author of four novels, including ‘The Moor’s Account’, which won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and ‘The Other Americans’, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award. Her essays and criticism have appeared in The Nation, Harper’s, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. She has received fellowships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program, and the Guggenheim Foundation and is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. She lives in Los Angeles.