Summary and book reviews of Elsewhere Home by Leila Aboulela

Elsewhere Home

by Leila Aboulela

Elsewhere Home by Leila Aboulela X
Elsewhere Home by Leila Aboulela
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2019, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Lyndal Martin
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About this Book

Book Summary

A rich tableau of life as an immigrant abroad, and the challenges of navigating assimilation and difference. Elsewhere, Home draws us ineluctably into the lives of her characters as they forge new identities and reshape old ones.

A young woman's encounter with a former classmate elicits painful reminders of her former life in Khartoum. A wealthy Sudanese student studying in Aberdeen begins an unlikely friendship with a Scottish man. A woman experiences an evolving relationship to her favorite writer, whose portrait of their shared culture both reflects and conflicts with her own sense of identity.

Shuttling between the dusty, sunbaked streets of Khartoum and the university halls and cramped apartments of Aberdeen and London, Elsewhere, Home explores, with subtlety and restraint, the profound feelings of yearning, loss, and alienation that come with leaving one's homeland in pursuit of a different life.

The Circle Line

Cheese melts in London like nowhere else. Old mixes with new like nowhere else. The city is blessed. But a girl can sob her heart out in London's streets and no one will stop, no one will raise an eyebrow, no one will ask why. Oh, city of opportunities, career ladders and fame, you promised me I could start afresh, make my fortune. Rise and cruise up high. But I age and watch the chances fold in, the paths converge. I live the narrowing and the shutting down.

This shrinkage makes for a modest life, a failure. It opens the trapdoor on what I thought was beneath me: the cesspool of bitter and delirious crime. Last year my fiancé was arrested for money laundering. I had no inkling of it, not the vaguest idea. Lucky you didn't go down with him, people tell me. They can't be bothered with the state of my heart.

After I broke off with him, my mother took to sending me alternative suitors. It is easier to meet them here in London. In Abu Dhabi we would have to be ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Aboulela excels at giving equal weight not only to the high-stakes drama of cultural differences, but also more focused concepts, like a schoolgirl's nearsightedness in "Farida's Eyes," or a restaurant worker's inability to cook rice, symbols of their cultural displacement. These stories are quiet in ways that highlight tensions of daily life rather than large-scale cataclysm. In the details, we see that these themes aren't about being Sudanese or British specifically, but the simultaneous sense of belonging and alienation familiar to us all.   (Reviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin).

Full Review Members Only (599 words).

Media Reviews

The Guardian (UK)
A yearning for home tugs at the souls of Aboulela's characters in this beautiful and desolate collection…There is so much quiet brilliance [here].

Good Housekeeping (UK)
A lovely collection of short stories about love, loneliness and spirituality.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Each story is earnest, engrossing, holding surprising depth for tales so compact. Aboulela confronts and dissects Western and African stereotypes of Islam, Muslims, and immigrants, and beautifully renders the more universal challenge of cultural homelessness.

Booklist (starred review)
Connected by a consistent authenticity, these stories display a virtuosity in building on the most relatable emotional hooks: pre-wedding nerves, pregnancy stress, or economic anxiety. Aboulela's remarkable collection offers a strong and sympathetic illumination of the social and spiritual price that migration demands even when it does deliver on an economic promise.

Author Blurb A.L. Kennedy
Elsewhere, Home is a rich and poignant reflection of a Britain built as ever from multiple perspectives and starting points…These beautifully focused tales of Khartoum, Edinburgh, London, Cairo and beyond are a delight.

Author Blurb John Freeman
[Aboulela] is one of the best short story writers alive. Publishing her at Granta Magazine and Freeman's has been one of the highlights of my life as an editor.

Author Blurb Fadia Faqir
Exquisite fiction. There are gems here, elegantly cut, polished and framed. Luminous.

Author Blurb Roma Tearne
Full of elegance, tenderness and the small vulnerabilities that make up our lives.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Literary Resistance in Sudan

Khartoum residents browse books at the Mafroush book fairLeila Aboulela's books, including the story collection Elsewhere Home, illuminate modern life in Sudan, sharing bits of culture and geography alongside the experiences of faith and human relationships. The author joins in the tradition of Tayib Saleh and other fiction writers who've brought the Sudanese diaspora experience into Western view. In recent decades, though, an oppressive political regime has limited the ability of writers in Sudan to share honest narratives of their lives.

In 1989, Omar al-Bashir staged a successful military coup in Sudan, beginning a presidency that lasted until a new coup forced him out in April 2019. Under Bashir, Sudan became an autocratic, single-party Islamic state. One of the many areas this impacted ...

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