The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami is a work of historical fiction following Estebanico, a Moroccan slave, who is one of four survivors of the failed Narváez expedition to colonise Spanish Florida in the sixteenth century. Of the four, his was the only testimony left off the record.
Lalami gives us Estebanico as history never did: as Mustafa, the vibrant merchant from Azemmur forced into slavery and a new name, and reborn as the first black explorer of the Americas, discovering and being discovered by hostile and compassionate tribes alike.
In Estebanico’s telling, the survivors’ journey across the New World transforms would-be conquerors into servants and outcasts into faith healers. He remains ever-observant, resourceful and hopeful that he might one day find his way back to his family, even as he experiences an unexpected (if ambiguous) camaraderie with his masters.