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KNOXVILLE –- Laila Lalami, author of this year’s Life of the Mind book, “Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits,” will make three appearances on the University of Tennessee campus this week.

Laila Lalami
Laila Lalami
On Sept. 13, at 7 p.m., she will speak in Cox Auditorium, Alumni Memorial Building. Her presentation will be followed by a book signing.

On Sept. 14, at 3:30 p.m., Lalami — who is also the creator of the popular literary blog Moorishgirl — will hold an informal discussion with anyone interested in creative writing and blogging. That discussion will take place in room 1210-1211 of McClung Tower.

Also on Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., she will hold an informal discussion at the International House.
All of these events are free and open to the public.

In the Life of the Mind program, now in its third year, every freshman reads the same book during the summer, then attends discussion sessions with other students and faculty volunteers soon after arriving on campus. The program is designed to get students thinking about matters of human concern, to allow them the opportunity to meet in small groups with faculty members before classes begin and to introduce them to stimulating discourse that makes college special.

The Life of the Mind program, including Lalami’s campus appearances, are part of “Ready for the World: The International and Intercultural Awareness Initiative,” a long-range plan to transform the UT campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.

Lalami, who was born in Rabat, Morocco, earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Universite Mohammed V in Rabat, her master’s degree from University College, London, and her doctorate in linguistics from the University of Southern California. She now lives in Portland, Ore.

Lalami has written extensively about Morocco, Muslim women, global poverty, and other issues of great concern.

Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian, The Nation, The Washington Post and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts grant and a Fulbright Fellowship. Her debut book of fiction, “Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits,” was published in the fall of 2005 and has since been translated into five languages.

“Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits” is about four Moroccans who cross the Straits of Gibraltar on a lifeboat in order to immigrate to Spain. As the story of their harrowing trip unfolds, readers learn about the characters’ pasts and how their lives are forever changed, for better or for worse, by the experience. Particularly relevant with the United States’ increasing illegal immigration issue, the book examines why people might be driven to leave their home country in search of better lives, as well as the problems they encounter in finding jobs, missing their families and being ostracized from society.

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu