“The Other Americans”

Sophia Dewael, Staff Writer

“The Other Americans” is a novel written by Laila Lalami and published on March 26, 2019. The book begins when the father of a Morrocan immigrant family is killed when a car hits him while he is crossing the street. It takes place in the small town of Mojave, which is located in the California desert. 


The story is told from an assortment of perspectives from the family of the victim, police officers, the witness, and the owner of a local business with some sections taking place in the past, while most are told in the present. Since there are different perspectives, the story overlaps at certain events in order to get more information from different characters. This type of storytelling adds suspense because the reader slowly figures out how all the people are connected to this story over time.


Since there are multiple perspectives, there are also several storylines being told. There are many different types of struggles going on in people’s lives dealing with money, love, loss, family issues, and struggling to succeed in life. The storylines differ greatly from one another, but they all seem to overlap around Driss, the victim, which emphasizes that in small towns, everyone knows each other and their stories are intertwined. It makes the book feel whole and complete with all of the perspectives that are given because of the many sources of insight.


Although the main plot revolves around finding who the father’s (Driss) killer is, the story also deals with issues of racism and not living up to family expectations. It tells the history of the Morrocan family and all the harm that racism has caused them in the past and the accusations they receive just because of their race. There is also the struggle of living up to working in a high-class job like being a medical professional or lawyer which leads to sibling rivalry. 


Throughout the book, the characters are learning all these important life lessons, while most of them are simultaneously dealing with grief. So many emotions and topics are represented in this book, and a lot of them are reflective of the author’s personal life because she had to go back to her home country because her father was ill. Although the book is similar to the author’s personal experience, it is a work of fiction. But it deals with topics that are still very relevant to modern life.


The author, Laila Lalami has written three other books and has been a finalist for multiple awards. “The Other Americans” was a finalist for the National Book Award while another book she wrote is “Moor’s Account,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.