Fiction has always benefited from experimentation, and several recent short story collections show just how well a new generation of writers has taken to the challenge. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits is the debut short story collection by Laila Lalami. Born in Rabat, Morocco, she is the creator of the literary blog Moorishgirl.com, and she opens this series of linked stories with an illegal nighttime voyage. A group of Moroccan immigrants have their hopes set on Spain and the trip across the Strait of Gibraltar is the only way there. In the stories that follow, Lalami focuses on a chosen four: a young mechanic with a young wife, a woman and her three small children, a university student who has recently taken to wearing the hijab, and a young man who, like the others, has dreams bigger than his means.

Lalami aims to fill a reader's senses. Throughout the book there is the aroma of the mint tea served at every meal, the joyful cries of children playing soccer, the sound of the muezzin's call to prayer. Chief among them, though, is the pull of her characters' hope. As determined as her characters, Lalami sets out to prove the strength of the human spirit.

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