A lyrical and moving novel by a twice Orange-listed rising star, set in 1950s Sudan and Egypt.
With Mahmood Bey at its helm, the family can do no wrong. But when Mahmood'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, another tragedy that he is almost unable to bear.
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. Mahmood's second wife, Nabilah, longs to return to Egypt and leave behind her the dust of 'backward-looking' Sudan. His first wife, Waheeba, lives traditionally behind veils and closed doors and resents Nabilah's influence on Mahmood. 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 loss, faith and reconciliation.
Leila Aboulela was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She is the author of four novels: THE TRANSLATOR, MINARET and LYRICS ALLEY, all of which were longlisted for the Orange Prize, and THE KINDNESS OF ENEMIES. LYRICS ALLEY won Novel of the Year at the Scottish Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, while Aboulela's collection of short fiction, COLOURED LIGHTS, won the Caine Prize. She lives in Aberdeen.