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: Grace Will Lead Us Home

Updated 21 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Grace Will Lead Us Home

Author: Jennifer Berry Hawes

Grace Will Lead Us Home is a deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings in 2015 at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes provides a definitive account of the tragedy’s aftermath.
“With unprecedented access to the grieving families and other key figures, Hawes offers a nuanced and moving portrait of the events and emotions that emerged in the massacre’s wake,” said a review in goodreads.com.
It said “Grace Will Lead Us Home — an unforgettable and deeply human portrait of grief, faith, and forgiveness — is destined to be a classic in the finest tradition of journalism.”
Chris Lebron said in a review for The New York Times: “In Grace Will Lead Us Home, the sorrow of the massacre’s three survivors, and that of the relatives left to mourn the dead, is vividly rendered but not to the point of caricature. Similarly admirable are moments when she depicts the difficulties faced by Roof’s family without compelling us to feel for them what we feel for the victims and their relatives.”