Lyrics Alley Paperback – 13 Mar 2012
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--Winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Award for Fiction
--Short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (South Asia and Europe)
--Long listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction
"Aboulela's vivid . . . fleet and engrossing narrative . . . [is full of] a generosity of spirit that extends to all her characters."--"The New York Times Book Review "
"A novel as thoughtful as it is evocative . . . Aboulela writes with precision and depth of feeling."--"The Boston Globe"
"Beautifully rendered . . . The prose is smooth and clear. . . . As a tale of stricken love between two souls, Lyrics Alley is impressive."--"The Guardian"
"Leila Aboulela's "Lyrics Alley" gives us the rich and complex world of a Sudanese patriarch in the 1950s who presides over a household containing two wives, various nieces, two sons--a new world full of modern ambitions and ancient problems. 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 "
"[Aboulela's] breakthrough novel . . . Real, compelling, and ultimately moving . . . Highly recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas set against a political backdrop, such as Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart "and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Half a Yellow Sun.""--"Library Journal" (starred review)
"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 that brings to mind Naguib Mahfouz's "The Cairo Trilogy.""--"Kirkus Reviews"
"Haunting . . . Keeps the reader gripped . . . 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 traditiona
About the Author
Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of three books: "The Translator," a "New York Times "100 Notable Book of the Year; "Minaret"; and a book of short stories, "Coloured Lights." Visit her website at leila-aboulela.com
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story begins, as many novels do, with an illness. The businessman and patriarch Mahmoud Abuzeid has a brush with mortality. He lies bed bound fearing the worst – family, friends and associates visit. The cast of the story is thus gathered around him.
Over the next few years we follow them and their diverse lives. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one or other, though not all have their say. This narrative technique allows us a 360˚view of characters. It is difficult for a writer to achieve this, but she manages it brilliantly.
It is not a family saga in the conventional sense; the time span is short, anyway. It is about family life,though, and touches there on universal themes. The joys of the young and healthy, the burden of the old and ill, the black sheep and the golden children.
The culture of the Sudan, the beliefs of Islam, the politics of independence, and the making of money shape life but do not determine it, for good or ill. Each character is presented with challenges, some face greater difficulties than others, some cope better than others.
At the heart is a love story based on the author’s own family. It is enchantingly told. But it is not the only tale.
I learnt a lot about the Sudan and about Islam. Mahmoud expects his business success to count in his favour when the day of reckoning comes. His Egyptian western wife, Nabilah, remembers to thank Allah only when misfortune passes by her door and visits others instead.
In the poor teacher, Ustaz Badr, we find the true believer and the novel’s true hero. He is every good book’s little man, and this is a good book. In every problem – he has as many as his children and more – he finds consolation, in every darkness he finds the light and in the Koran he finds strength. From him come the words of wisdom in Lyrics Alley.
I learned a lot from this novel and it opened windows into a world I knew only a little about. It is a novel for all and everyone.