Lyrics Alley

Grove. Mar. 2011. c.304p. ISBN 9780802119513. $24. F
This breakthrough novel by the author of Minaret and The Translator recounts the story of the Abuzeid family of Sudan—and a country on the brink of change in the 1950s as British rule nears its end. The Abuzeids are a wealthy, powerful clan, but they are not immune to the conflict between the traditions of the past and the pull of modernization. This struggle is most evident in the animosity between the two wives of patriarch Mahmoud—the Sudanese Waheeba, who values the old ways, and the Egyptian-born Nabilah, who feels suffocated by village life—and in the desires of Mahmoud's niece, Soraya, for both marriage and career. These conflicts erupt when Mahmoud's son, Nur, suffers a catastrophic injury. Somehow, despite great pain, these characters learn to make personal sacrifices and find a way to compromise. Their stories, revealed through the novel's multiple points of view, are real, compelling, and ultimately moving.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas set against a political backdrop, such as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun. [See "Prepub Exploded," BookSmack!, 9/16/10.]
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