Since 2001, Lalami has been writing a literary and Middle Eastern affairs blog, Moorish girl.com, and now she has published her first novel. "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" (Algonquin, $21.95) tells the story of a boatload of Moroccan immigrants trying to get to Spain. As they approach the Spanish coast, an unemployed university graduate named Murad considers their destination: "Tarifa. The mainland point of the Moorish invasion in 711.... Little did they know that we'd be back, Murad thinks. Only instead of a fleet, here we are in an inflatable boat - not just Moors, but a motley mix of people from the ex-colonies, without guns or armor, without a charismatic leader."
... and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Such foreboding fits recent headlines. Eleven young Moroccans have died in recent weeks attempting to crash the guarded borders of Spain. This young author, who writes beautifully, charts a different course, ending her volume with cautious optimism. With this debut, Lalami becomes an artist to watch.