recently read: Lyrics Alley, Leila Aboulela.
I read Aboulela’s stunning novel The Translator earlier this summer and while I didn’t love this novel quite as much, I can absolutely count it as one of the best books I’ve read this summer. Lyrics Alley is about a Muslim family in 1950s Sudan during a time of both new economic growth for the Sudanese and increasing agitation with the British imperialists occupying the region. The family is headed by an extraordinarily wealthy patriarch and his most promising son, Nur, is betrothed to his cousin Soraya until he has a devastating accident while vacationing in Egypt. Nur’s accident reshapes the whole family.
One of my favorite things about Aboulela, who I am fast considering a favorite author, is how whole her characters are. They are all flawed and all feel real. The complexity of her characters makes reading about a culture with which I am not familiar a real joy. The exploration of a traditional Muslim population working alongside a more secular population which yet still working and living alongside English Christians is fascinating.
I’m also so excited by the fresh beauty of Aboulela’s writing. There would very often be a line or two that took me by complete surprise because of how beautifully it described something or how tactile it could make a feeling.
Aboulela’s writing is a joy to read.