Picks and Pans Review: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

updated 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Laila Lalami

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Moroccan-born Laila Lalami, creator of the hip literary blog Moorishgirl.com, is a captivating story-teller who drops us onto an inflatable boat ferrying illegal immigrants from Morocco to Spain. Lalami skillfully limns the dark recesses of the Muslim world and creates true-to-life characters, including Murad, a tout who hustles tourists; Halima, a battered wife fleeing her alcoholic husband and the slums of Casablanca; and Faten, a student and religious radical. With subtlety and grace the author explores the emotional complexities of the culture they're trying to escape—one that bears more resemblance to ours than we may imagine.

NOVEL

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