The Moor’s Account. Laila Lalami.

Lalami, Laila. The Moor’s Account. Simon & Schuster Canada, 2014. Electronic Kindle version. F;6/15

Unfortunately I lost my notes on this book, and it’s been a while since I read it. I remember it reasonably happily but won’t be able to do anything beyond a quick plot summary from memory, and a comment.

A 16th century man from Africa is forced by economic circumstances to rescue his family by selling himself into slavery, and ends up on a Spanish expedition to what turns out to be Florida. The expedition is catastrophic in a variety of ways including starvation, death at the hands of aboriginals, disease, and failure to find the riches of the local society that the Spaniards were seeking. Along the way, the Moor our narrator provides his version of the events, which differs significantly from the historic one left by the Spaniards. He outlives his master and many other members of the expedition, joins native people and marries a native girl, becomes a respected healer, and eventually falls back into the hands of the officials in the existing Spanish settlement. Finally he is able to return home.

The writing is respectable, there’s plenty of emotion and plainly-presented moral content, and we can’t help but sympathize with and like the main character. I enjoyed the story and was always more than happy to get back to reading it. I would say it’s a good thing that the characterization and writing are as good as they are, because the fundamental morality content (there is another version of history than what old Europeans told us, slavery is a great evil but it doesn’t always damage the character of the slave, North American aboriginals are lovely innocent people, the world is full of shallow, self-serving, greedy, heartless and inhumane bastards) comprises mostly things we’ve heard before. 8.0/8.8.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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