Book Review: ‘Elsewhere, Home’ is an enchanting collection of short stories

“Elsewhere, Home” was published by Telegram in 2018, an imprint of Saqi Books. (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 August 2018
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Book Review: ‘Elsewhere, Home’ is an enchanting collection of short stories

  • Aboulela is an award-winning author whose novels have won and been longlisted for multiple awards
  • Within each of Aboulela’s stories is a place for cultures to melt into one another

CHICAGO: Longlisted for the People’s Book Prize 2018, “Elsewhere, Home” by Leila Aboulela is an enchanting collection of short stories that stretch from the heart of Khartoum and its “bone-colored sky” to the coast of Scotland. In each tale, Aboulela explores the concept of home and the nostalgia associated with leaving home.
The collection begins with “Summer Maze,” a story in which a mother and daughter attempt to find a connection through their constant struggle between modern versus traditional lifestyles as they travel from Heathrow to Cairo for vacation. Aboulela’s stories are based on relatable narratives — she tells of a convert from Edinburgh who travels to Khartoum to marry the woman he loves and, in another story, a woman sitting on a bus in London whose nostalgia takes her back to the waters of the Nile and the brother she lost on his wedding day. The reader is dropped into the middle of her character’s lives — their struggles and hopes have already been established and we only witness fleeting moments in their complex lives.
Aboulela’s stories bring with them the warmth of the Khartoum sun and the shimmering sunlight that reflects off of the White and Blue Nile.
Aboulela’s characters — both men and women, young and old — are resolute, sometimes flawed, but always aware of themselves. Her female characters are strong and ever-conscious of the world they live in. Her characters are deeply imbedded in their multiple identities, in their African identity, Arab identity and Muslim identity, all of which contribute to their outlook.
Within each of Aboulela’s stories is a place for cultures to melt into one another, in which discomfort is dispelled by a new sense of comfort, and in which non-aligning relationships are aligned and a new common ground is established. Each story reminds us that the need to coexist stems from a need for love, home and belonging.
Aboulela is an award-winning author whose novels have won and been longlisted for multiple awards. “Elsewhere, Home” was published by Telegram in 2018, an imprint of Saqi Books.


What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Updated 20 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Author: Margaret Lock

Due to rapidly aging populations, the number of people worldwide experiencing dementia is increasing, and the projections are grim. Despite billions of dollars invested in medical research, no effective treatment has been discovered for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
The Alzheimer Conundrum exposes the predicaments embedded in current efforts to slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease through early detection of pre-symptomatic biological changes in healthy individuals.
Based on a meticulous account of the history of Alzheimer’s disease and extensive in-depth interviews, Margaret Lock highlights the limitations and the dissent associated with biomarker detection. Lock argues that basic research must continue, but should be complemented by a public health approach to prevention that is economically feasible, more humane, and much more effective globally than one exclusively focused on an increasingly harried search for a cure.
Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.