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: Collecting - An Unruly Passion

Updated 34 min 41 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: Collecting - An Unruly Passion

Author: Werner Muensterberger

From rare books, valuable sculptures and paintings, the relics of saints, and porcelain and other precious items, through stamps, textiles, military ribbons, and shells, to baseball cards, teddy bears, and mugs, an amazing variety of objects have engaged and even obsessed collectors through the ages.
With this captivating book the psychoanalyst Werner Muensterberger provides the first extensive psychological examination of the emotional sources of the never-ending longing for yet another collectible. Muensterberger’s roster of driven acquisition-hunters includes the dedicated, the serious, and the infatuated, whose chronic restlessness can be curbed— and then merely temporarily — only by purchasing, discovering, receiving, or even stealing a new “find.” In an easy, conversational style, the author discusses the eccentricities of heads of state, literary figures, artists, and psychoanalytic patients, all possessed by a need for magic relief from despair and helplessness — and for the self-healing implied in the phrase “I can’t live without it!”
The central part of the work explores in detail the personal circumstances and life history of three individuals: a contemporary collector, Martin G; the celebrated British book and manuscript collector Sir Thomas Phillipps and the great French novelist Honoré de Balzac, a compulsive collector of bric-a-brac who expressed his empathy for the acquisitive passions of his collector protagonist in Cousin Pons.