In 1950s Sudan, the powerful and sprawling Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm, with Mahmoud Bey at its helm. But when Mahmoud’s son, Nur, the handsome heir to his business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family is suddenly divided in the face of an uncertain future.
As British rule nears its end, Sudan is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past—a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud’s two wives: the younger, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and escape the dust of “backward-looking” Sudan; and Waheeba, who lives traditionally in the confines of her open-air kitchen. It is not until Nur begins to assert himself outside the strict cultural limits of his parents that both his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family can begin to mend.
Moving from the alleys of Sudan to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated post-colonial Britain, Lyrics Alley is a sweeping tale of desire and loss, faith, despair and reconciliation. It is one of the most accomplished and evocative portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence.