The Other Americans

Paperback, 301 pages

English language

Published Feb. 20, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

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4 stars (1 review)

There wasn't anything I could do. All I saw was a man falling to the ground.

Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui's daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she'd left for good; his widow Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora's and now a veteran of the Iraq war; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son's secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and Driss himself.

As the characters – deeply divided by race, religion and class – tell their …

6 editions

Not as compelling as I had hoped

4 stars

The Other Americans is an interesting portrayal of the intersection of a number of lives, brought together as the result of a seemingly random hit and run accident. Through the novel we read numerous first person chapters from a large cast of characters, getting to know their thoughts and experiences from both before and after the man was killed. I liked the idea of the multiple viewpoints, but would have preferred that there be fewer of them because not all the characters were strongly defined so I sometimes forgot whose words I was reading.

The novel moves across genres so at the beginning it felt like it might become a whodunnit, then it was more of a slice-of-life family drama, then we swooped into a romance. I thought these changes worked well and allowed Lalami to explore a wider variety of social issues than perhaps a more traditionally genred novel …


  • Literary fiction