Secret Son by Laila Lalami

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Synopsis

Raised by his mother in a one-room house in the slums of Casablanca, Youssef El Mekki has always had big dreams of living another life in another world. Suddenly his dreams are within reach when he discovers that his father—whom he’d been led to believe was dead—is very much alive. A wealthy businessman, he seems eager to give his son a new start. Youssef leaves his mother behind to live a life of luxury, until a reversal of fortune sends him back to the streets and his childhood friends. Trapped once again by his class and painfully aware of the limitations of his prospects, he becomes easy prey for a fringe Islamic group.

In the spirit of The Inheritance of Loss and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Laila Lalami’s debut novel looks at the struggle for identity, the need for love and family, and the desperation that grips ordinary lives in a world divided by class, politics, and religion.


 

About Laila Lalami

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Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship and was short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2006. She lives in Los Angeles.
 
Published May 9, 2010 by Algonquin Books. 323 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Secret Son

The New York Times

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A young Casablancan with an absent father is recruited by Islamic terrorists in this novel.

Jun 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

Suite 101

Secret Son by Moroccan writer Laila Lalami is a beautifully crafted story that stays with readers long after the last page has been read.

Apr 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

The Bookbag

Nabil insists that, without wealth and influence, a degree is a waste of time and, looking at the corruption that goes on in his father's world, Youssef is inclined to agree with him.

Feb 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

The Roanoke Times

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Jan 27 2010 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

Time Out New York

Here, Youssef el-Mekki, a 19-year-old student, lives alone with his mom, navigating the mazelike streets and even trickier labyrinths of Moroccan society—from the various cliques at his college (Marxists, fundamentalists, Westernized elites) to the dark presence of "the Party," a radical Islamist...

Apr 30 2009 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

Metro

Non fiction of the week: Secret Son, by Laila Lalami (Viking, £12.99).

Feb 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

Collected Miscellany

We feel the sudden betrayal as Youssef is forced back to his mother and the world he thought he had left behind.

Apr 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Secret Son

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Reader Rating for Secret Son
75%

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