Title : The Moor’s Account

Author : Laila Lalami

Context : The Moor’s Account is a historical fiction novel by Laila Lalami set in the Americas in the 1500s. The journey across America to be made by the 4 survivors would change them from proud conquerors to humble servants and from frightened outcasts to faith healers.

Synopsis :The novel is about Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico, the first black who explored the Americas. The explorer’s imagined memoirs are brought to the reader in the novel. Estebanico is the slave of a Spanish conqueror. As part of a dangerous expedition in 1527, Estebanico along with his master Dorantes set sail for the Americas to Florida. The only four survivors within a year of the expedition, were the Alonso del Castillo Maldonado a Spanish nobleman, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca the treasurer of the expedition, Andres Dorantes de Carranza a young explorer and Mustafa al-Zamori the Moroccan slave of Dorantes, who was called Estebanico by the3 Spaniards. Within a period of one year, out of the four Spanish crew members sailing, Estebanico is the only survivor.

With almost a hundred horses, a crew of 600 men, they sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The main aim of the conqueror was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown. This would make his popular and wealthy just as Hernán Cortés in the process. On reaching Florida, the expedition faced starvation, peril, disease, navigational errors and was prevented entry by the indigenous tribes. During their sailing journey across America, the relationship between Estebanico and his Spanish companions undergoes a gradual change. Their roles as master and slave, as per the Old World fall away and in the process the Estebanico transforms himself as a healer, as an equal and an outstanding storyteller. His story throws light on ways in which our narratives can pass on to a different body after death and how story telling provides a chance at survival and absolution.

Other works by the Author :


2005 – Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

2009 – Secret Son

2019 – The Other Americans


2020 – Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America

Short Stories

2009 – How I Became My Mother’s Daughter