... a wonderfully readable series of essays ... The points Lalami makes are not new, but her perspective on them is unique, and the beautifully written personal stories she includes give Conditional Citizens a flair and warmth rare in a polemic about what’s wrong with America ... Like her innate globalism, the author’s perspective as a parent enriches her analysis ... This is Lalami’s first nonfiction book after four novels, one of them a National Book Award finalist, and it is exciting to hear her address the issues she has touched on in fiction with rigor and focus.
... an argument for active, equal United States citizenship. In order to forward her conception of equality, Lalami must first present its counter construct: conditional membership in the body politic ... Lalami’s interrogation of patriarchy is the most important critique in this very strong book ... For citizens planning to exercise the franchise this fall, Conditional Citizens clarifies the stakes of the most crucial American election season of the 21st century thus far.
... a no-holds-barred non-fiction debut ... Lalami structures Conditional Citizens: On Belonging In America as a series of personal vignettes and historical dives that are more broad than deep. Her contribution is not original research. She relies largely on the scholarship of others and news archives to explore her own understanding of what it means to belong in this country. What she brings is self-awareness ... Her book is not designed to win over those 'in the middle.' She can and will be dismissed by some as a newcomer who has lived the American Dream and then trashed it. But mainstream acceptance is not her central concern. Her goal, it seems, is to thread 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.