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Lyrics Alley Paperback – Dec 1 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Paperback, Dec 1 2010
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: George Weidenfeld & Nicholson (Dec 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297860097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297860099
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,974,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'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.' WOMAN & 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.' NEW INTERNATIONALIST '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.' MARIE CLAIRE '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.' -- Anita Sethi THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Leila Aboulela has created a story for all the senses, one to be savoured and enjoyed.' FINANCIAL TIMES '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.' MSLEXIA 'Its themes include desire, love, poetry, popular music, film, privilege and poverty. At the core is the dilemma of a culture torn between the divergent calls of tradition and modernity. This is an unprecedented novel that breaks new ground in writing about Sudanese society at the time of independence...this is a novel where human stories are writ large in the engaging foreground, with politics and history alluded to with almost demure elegance as part of the scenic backdrop.' -- Rachel Holmes, Head of Literature and Spoken Word Southbank Centre 'In many respects, Aboulela's family tale is a universal one... Understanding all too well how a family can shape an individual's destiny is what gives her tale its humanity... But it is in her vivid, beautifully original portrayals of battling wives, Nabilah and Waheeba, that her real genius lies.' THE HERALD (Glasgow) 'the graceful and elegantly told saga of the powerful and affluent Abuzeid family...The book explores tensions and contradictions within Islam and Sudan still relevant today, in particular those that affect women...Aboulela writes with a light touch. Her sensitivity towards and understanding of her characters' motives ensure that they are people first and never become mere schematic metaphors...This beautiful book is testament to what might have been as well as what might still be.' -- Jane Charteris LITERARY REVIEW 'Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country... As British rule nears its end, the country is torn between modernising influences and past traditions - a conflict reflected in the growing tensions between Mahmoud's two wives. It is a tale of desire, loss, despair and reconciliation.' THE MIDDLE EAST 'Aboulela's skill is in teasing out nuance in different contexts, while making the reader care about her characters as individuals... The author succeeds in creating characters which convince us; they are as imperfect, unpredictable and endearing as real life.' TLS 'Set in 1950s Sudan, Leila Aboulela's latest novel, Lyrics Alley a family saga about a poet, beautifully elaborates on how tragedy can bring a gift in its wake.' -- Mariella Frostrup PSYCHOLOGIES 'a powerful Sudanese family saga of the 1950s, inspired by the life of her poet uncle...A great read, thoroughly reserached, and now shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' South Asia and Europe Best Book Prize.' BANIPAL - LIBYAN FICTION 'Aboulela paints the history that unfolds behind the family upheaval with a delicate hand...she offers characters that absorb and fascinate...Particularly well-drawn is the battle over whether to circumcise the family's daughters...its power lies in its depiction of humanity; the anguished rage of a mother at what has been done to her daughter, the vindictive envy of the old wife passed over for the new, a child's bewildered pain and fear.' THE ECONOMIST 'The characters are astutely shaded, and their varying relations to Islam are beautifully rendered. The novel's sense of internal timing is excellent, and the prose is smooth and clear. As Nur's poem "Eid Crescent" has it: "Let me narrate the story of two souls / Whose love was struck by the evil eye, / In a twist which Fate had hidden..." As a tale of stricken love between two souls, Lyrics Alley is impressive.' THE GUARDIAN

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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the second book by this author that I have read--and quite honestly could NOT put it down. The author is a beautiful writer--and having travelled through the Middle East and specifically Egypt I could actually see and 'feel' the surroundings.I was swept into the story of Sudan/Egypt--and an influential family's way through life-- centered predominantly from the voices of the women during the 50's. This era sets the seeds for much of the Middle East's exploding tensions today--with the backdrop of commerce,domestic life, class and religion intercepting into political streams. The story is fairly autobiographical --and the tension on conservative traditional ideals contrasting with liberal, more modern practises provides great debating moments for a book group out there somewhere. Highly recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa7fbffe4) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa79694a4) out of 5 stars Lyrics Alley - A Fascinating Book June 29 2011
By Beth Cummings - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Leila Aboulela's novel, "Lyrics Aley." It is the story of a Sudanese merchant's family during the early 1050s as Sudan was preparing to become a nation on its own after being connceted to Egypt and being a British colony. The family patriarch, Mahmous Abuzeid, is a successful businessman who has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather making a living buying and selling. His grandfather had a stall in a the bazaar, but now the business has warehouses and shipping in both Sudan and Egypt. Mahmoud Abuzeid also has a wife from both Sudan and Egypt. His Sudanese wife is an older village woman and the mother of his two oldest sons, Nassir and Nur. His Egyptian wife is young, sophisticated and the mother of a young son and daughter. The disparities between these two women and their expectations form a partial basis for the plot. Another large part comes from a tragic accident that befalls the second son, Nur.

The world around the Abuzeid family is rapidly changing and each part of the family needs to learn to cope with these changes. The book gives interesting insight into Sudanese life and the social and political differences between Sudan and Egypt. It makes the current split within Sudan a more understandable situation.

I found the book to be fascinating. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy books about different cultures, history told as story and family drama as a way to learn about the world.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa80f69b4) out of 5 stars Very engrossing and thought-provoking Sept. 13 2013
By Ethel Gullette - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful and evocative novel, set in a most interesting time and place. The characters are extremely well-drawn, and the mix of personal story with cultural and historical context is great.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa782cdc8) out of 5 stars Just the way I like my books Aug. 10 2013
By jsrountree - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was everything I thought it would be a a great read. An unpredictable ending, great imagery, interesting plot and to top it off it was an old library book!!! An English major's dream! It still had the book check out card in the back and the pages were yellowing. It was prefect. Great add on to my collection.

I don't think that's how they all come if you're not into the vintage used look.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ce839c) out of 5 stars Wonderful read. May 10 2014
By Judy Moore - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a surprisingly wonderful novel with well developed characters, an intriguing analysis of cultural and class differences and a carefully developed plot that actually resolves in a believable fashion. So many current novels wind up with either an abrupt end or an unbelievable, albeit 'happy' ending that this one actually works!
HASH(0xa782c144) out of 5 stars I had high hopes for Lyrics Alley which were more than satisfied. The world desperately needs to open its heart ... March 3 2016
By Jennifer Dohrn - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aboulela's mastery of creating people and images that become real and vivid brings the reader into a world we need to learn about. As a longtime fan of The Translator (I have read it many times), I had high hopes for Lyrics Alley which were more than satisfied. The world desperately needs to open its heart and mind to new cultures and ways of interpreting life. Aboulela is a major contributor to be our teacher.