Bird Summons Synopsis
Salma, happily married, tries every day to fit into life in Britain. When her first love contacts her, she is tempted to risk it all and return to Egypt. Moni gave up a career in banking to care for her disabled son, but now her husband wants to move to Saudi Arabia - where she fears her son's condition will worsen. Iman feels burdened by her beauty. In her twenties and yet in her third marriage, she is treated like a pet and longs for freedom. On a road trip to the Scottish Highlands, the friends are visited by the Hoopoe, a sacred bird whose fables from Muslim and Celtic literature compel them to question the balance between faith and femininity,love, loyalty and sacrifice. Brilliantly imagined, intense and haunting, Bird Summons confirms Leila Aboulela's reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers.
Bird Summons Press Reviews
Aboulela's prose is restrained but warm. There is a calm amusement in her tone when the women mock the overly conservative men in their lives . . .For western readers, Aboulela offers rare and precious insight into the minds of women who believe that husbands should be obeyed - Moni's dogged devotion to the care of her disabled son, which is tenderly described early in the novel, is viewed by her friends as a betrayal of her marriage vows -- Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett * GUARDIAN * She's so good with women's interiority, and Muslim women's subjectivity ... she gets beyond any cliche or type of the Muslim women -- Arifa Akbar * BBC Radio 4, Front Row * Tender, but unsentimental . . . rooted in everyday experience without forsaking the spiritual, told in effortlessly enjoyable style' -- Anthony Cummins * DAILY MAIL * Aboulela is doing much the same thing as Jane Austen did when she brought her heroines to the point of examining their feelings honestly and so realising who they should marry and on what terms. Aboulela does this very well, and always (which is just as important) interestingly ... a very good novel -- Alan Massie * THE SCOTSMAN * An intensely felt novel about an extraordinary journey that peels open one unexpected world after another -- Romesh Gunesekera, author of Booker Prize-shortlisted REEF Leila Aboulela is a constant inspiration to me. Her acute observations, magical realism and fine, flowing prose about women and worlds I know well but had never seen drawn in all their vivid complexity on the page before, are what make me return to her work again and again. -- Sabrina Mahfouz, editor of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write BIRD SUMMONS is a heady blend of social realism, magic, Middle Eastern folktale and Celtic myth. Above all it is the story of three women on a journey not only to the Highlands but also into themselves, as they confront their hopes, fears and deepest secrets. Leila Aboulela's is a unique and refreshing voice in contemporary Scottish fiction -- James Robertson, author of THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK and TO BE CONTINUED A wonderful book. I loved the beauty of its language and the subtle interweaving of myth with the spiritual and physical journeys of the women. I found it fascinating, powerful and profound -- Anne Donovan, author of BUDDHA DA BIRD SUMMONS is the story of three Arab women on a quest in the Scottish Highlands and how their experience challenges and reveals them layer by layer. It is engaging and funny and rich in narrative suspense -- Abdulrazak Gurnah, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of PARADISE and GRAVEL HEART BIRD SUMMONS is a Scottish-Arabic Canterbury Tales, a quest full of stories and surprises: a challenging storyteller's tour de force, uniting two radically different cultures with a handshake and a kiss. -- Patricia Duncker, author of HALLUCINATING FOUCAULT and SOPHIE AND THE SIBYL: A VICTORIAN ROMANCE BIRD SUMMONS is a magic carpet ride into the forest of history and the lives of women. Deep and wild -- Lucy Ellmann, author of the Guardian Fiction Prize winner SWEET DESSERTS, and MIMI