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Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

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One of the 20 Longlisted titles for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011.

Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 3 February 2011.

A lyrical and deeply moving novel by a twice ORANGE-listed rising star, set in pre-Independence Sudan, Egypt and post-war Britain.

If you like Leila Aboulela you might also like to read books by Abdulrazak Gurnah, Manil Suri and Hari Kunzru.


Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

Set in 1950s Sudan, LYRICS ALLEY is the story of the powerful and sprawling Abuzied dynasty. With Mahmood Bey at its helm, the family can do no wrong. But when Mahmood's son, Nur - the brilliant, charming heir to his business empire - suffers a near-fatal accident, his hopes of university and a glittering future are dashed. Subsequently, his betrothal to his cousin and sweetheart, Soraya is broken off, another tragedy that he is almost unable to bear. As British rule is coming to an end, and the country is torn between modernising influences and the call of traditions past, the family is divided. Mahmood's second wife, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and leave behind her the dust of 'backward-looking' Sudan. His first wife, Waheeba, lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors and resents Nabilah's influence on Mahmood. Meanwhile, Nur must find a way to live again in the world and find peace. Moving from the villages of Sudan to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain, this is a sweeping tale of loss, faith and reconciliation.


'The scattered but powerful Abuzeid family are a force in 1950s Sudan. When the patriarch's son is injured, everything must change. A thought provoking glimpse into an unfamiliar society as old ways give way to new.'

& HOME 'an assured and highly readable portrait of a family in flux and two societies - Sudan and Egypt - on the cusp of momentous changes...Lyrics Alley is an evocative description of the struggle between tradition and modernization, a conflict that is still being fought in present-day Islamic culture.

'Soraya is smitten with her cousin, Nur, heir to the family business but everything falls apart when he suffers a near-fatal injury and the betrothal is called off. In beautiful subtle prose Aboulela reveals the emotional consequences of their separation, and how the couple must renegotiate their futures...Aboulela explores themes of love, faith and divided families with tender restraint.'

'haunting...Vividly evoking the alleyways of Sudan, Egypt and Britain, this novel also movingly and meticulously traces the hidden pathways of the mind and heart with all its anger, shame, hate and love.'

'Leila Aboulela has created a story for all the senses, one to be savoured and enjoyed.'

'a panoramic exposition of a country on the brink of independence, a splendid representation of upper class Sudanese life, and a fascinating exploration of the lives of women...Lyrics Alley is gripping and meticulously researched.'

About the Author

Leila Aboulela was born in 1964 in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She came to England to study at the LSE and now lives between Doha and Aberdeen.

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Book Info

Publication date

16th December 2010


Leila Aboulela

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co




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