Set in 1950s Sudan, Lyrics Alley is the story of the powerful and sprawling Abuzeid dynasty. With Mahmoud Bey at its helm, the family can do no wrong. But when Mahmoud’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.
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. Mahmoud’s second wife, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and leave behind the dust of ‘backward-looking’ Sudan. His first wife, Waheeba, is confined to her open-air kitchen and resents Nabilah’s influence on Mahmoud. 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 love, loss, faith and reconciliation.
Leila Aboulela is the author of five novels: Bird Summons (2019), The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, The Kindness of Enemies, Minaret and Lyrics Alley, Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of 2018. Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and she was long-listed three times for the Orange Prize. She grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Aberdeen.