Lyrics Alley: Book summary and reviews of Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

Lyrics Alley

A Novel

By Leila Aboulela

Lyrics  Alley
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they've built for decades. In 1950s Sudan, the powerful Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm. With Mahmoud Bey at its helm, they can do no wrong. But when Mahmoud's son, Nur, the brilliant, handsome heir to the business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family stands divided in the face of an uncertain future.

As British rule nears its end, the country is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past - a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud's two wives: the younger, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and escape "backward-looking" Sudan; while Waheeba lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors. It's not until Nur asserts himself outside the cultural limits of his parents that his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family begin to mend. Moving from Sudanese alleys to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain, this sweeping tale of desire, loss, despair, and reconciliation is one of the most accomplished portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Real, compelling, and ultimately moving...Highly recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas set against a political backdrop." - Library Journal

"Rich in detail and generous in spirit toward its complex characters, [Lyrics Alley] showcases Aboulela's talent for connecting political and personal upheaval. [An] elegantly written family epic." - Kirkus Reviews

"Though the novel offers few glimpses into life outside the Abuzeid's sheltered enclave...Aboulela provides fine insight into the practice of Islam...as well as a thoroughly engaging if romanticized exploration of the universal tensions between modernity and tradition..." - Publishers Weekly

"Leila Aboulela writes with tenderness and sensitivity about the hopes of a country on the verge of independence. ...[The] narrative is at once compelling and illuminating, full of the color and cadence of Aboulela's homeland." - Tahmima Anam, author of A Golden Age

"I read it with the delight one has suddenly stumbling on lush and abundant hidden gardens behind foreign city walls, various with its own life and laws, and infinitely satisfying." - Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress

"A tale of powerful feelings and potent words...this visceral, epic novel...gives fascinating insights into Sudanese society, with different characters embodying the dramatic clash between tradition and modernity..." - The Telegraph (UK)

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Author Information

Leila Aboulela Author Biography

Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing and is the author of many novels. Minaret was longlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize. The Translator was one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year. Lyrics Alley won the Scottish Trust Book Award for Fiction, was short listed for The Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (South Asia and Europe), and longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Born in Khartoum, Sudan, Aboulela now lives in Doha, Qatar.

Link to Leila Aboulela's Website

Name Pronunciation
Leila Aboulela: Aboul-Ela

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