• Conditional Citizens

  • On Belonging in America
  • By: Laila Lalami
  • Narrated by: Laila Lalami
  • Length: 5 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (95 ratings)

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Conditional Citizens  By  cover art

Conditional Citizens

By: Laila Lalami
Narrated by: Laila Lalami
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Interview: Laila Lalami Stands for America's 'Conditional Citizens'

'...I am trying to tell a story in the most truthful way that I can...'
  • Conditional Citizens
  • '...I am trying to tell a story in the most truthful way that I can...'

Publisher's summary

A New York Times Editors' Choice • Best Book of the Year: Time, NPR, Bookpage, L.A. Times

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­-finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to US citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of American rights, liberties, and protections.

"Sharp, bracingly clear essays." (Entertainment Weekly)

Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth - such as national origin, race, and gender - that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today.

Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.

Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.

©2020 Laila Lalami (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

One of:
Electric Literature 56 Books by Women and Nonbinary WOC to read in 2020
BuzzFeed Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Vulture Best Upcoming Books 2020
Paste Magazine Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2020
The Week Anticipated Books of 2020
BookPage: Most Anticipated Nonfiction
Ms. Magazine: Most Anticipated Feminist Books
Library Journal: Barbara’s Picks
PW top 10: Most Anticipated Politics/Current Events
LitHub: Most Anticipated Books of 2020

"In this eloquent and troubling account, novelist and National Book Award-finalist Lalami (The Other Americans) draws on her personal history as 'an immigrant, a woman, an Arab, and a Muslim' to argue that becoming a US citizen does not necessarily mean becoming 'an equal member of the American family'.... This profound inquiry into the American immigrant experience deserves to be widely read." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Consistently thoughtful and incisive, the book confronts the perils of our modern age with truths to inspire the coalition-building necessary to American cultural and democratic survival. A bracingly provocative collection perfect for our times.” (Kirkus reviews)

"No-holds-barred...thread[s] together the experiences of a breathtakingly diverse underclass. This constituency is increasingly finding its voice, and she is amplifying what had long been intimate, complicated inner thoughts." (NPR)