Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
A Novel

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Lyrics Alley is the evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they've built for decades.

In 1950's Sudan, the powerful Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm. With Mahmoud Bey at its helm, they can do no wrong. But when Mahmoud's son, Nur, the brilliant, handsome heir to the business empire, suffers a debilitating accident, the family stands divided in the face of an uncertain future. As British rule nears its end, the country 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 "backward-looking" Sudan; while Waheeba lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors. It's not until Nur asserts himself outside the cultural limits of his parents that his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family begin to mend.

Moving from Sudanese alleys to cosmopolitan Cairo and a decimated postcolonial Britain, this sweeping tale of desire, loss, despair, and reconciliation is one of the most accomplished portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence.

About Leila Aboulela

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LEILA ABOULELA was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She is the author of two novels: The Translator, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Minaret-- both longlisted for the Orange Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her book of short stories, Coloured Lights, published in 2001, contained her story " The Museum," which made her the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Leila Aboulela lives between Doha and Aberdeen. Visit her website at
Published March 1, 2011 by Grove Press. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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This subsequently drives a wedge between Mahmoud and both his women, as he struggles to do the right thing for his family, especially Nur, who depends on the care of his mother.

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The Guardian

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As she wrote Lyrics Alley, now longlisted for the Orange prize, Leila Aboulela could not have known that the era in which she set her novel would resonate so strongly with early 2011.

Apr 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Lyrics Alley: A Novel

The Telegraph

Lyrics Alley sensitively charts the growth of a young artist discovering and honing his talent: 'It must be a skill, like fishing, to cast your net into a river of dreams and catch a splendid array of words.’ In an unstable world, Nur finds that 'the poem is his home’.

Dec 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Lyrics Alley: A Novel

Suite 101

Inspired by the life of Sudanese poet and lyricist Hassan Awad Aboulela, this story is an engaging look into family life and society in Sudan in the 1950s.

Feb 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Lyrics Alley: A Novel

The Bookbag

I was keen to get reading but before I could, I'm faced with a page listing the Principal Characters and another page setting out the Abuzeid family tree.

Apr 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Lyrics Alley: A Novel

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