Laila Lalami

American writer

Laila Lalami (born 1968) is a Moroccan-American novelist, essayist, and professor.

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  • They’re supposed to be the people who support you, who love you no matter what, and the reality is they’re the first people who teach you to cast doubt on yourself, they’re the first people who sometimes don’t have your back…
  • When you move into a new place, it does involve a refashioning of the self. We derive our sense of identity at least partly in relation to the landscape around us, in which we’ve grown up..…
  • I’m an immigrant myself. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years, when I do events, is that people will—not unkindly—suggest that I’m “doing well.” It’s something that’s always mystified me, as if there are different classes of immigrants, and the immigrants who “make it” work harder than those who don’t “make it.” As if success is entirely determined by an individual’s effort, irrespective of society’s structural inequities. I’ve always been very suspicious of that notion. It’s very dangerous. It’s an idea that I think makes people feel guilty when they’re not successful. Like if you’re poor, it’s your fault because you didn’t work hard enough…

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