Archives par étiquette : Leila Aboulela


A masterful, adventurous new novel set in nineteenth-century Sudan from Caine Prizewinning, New York Times Notable author Leila Aboulela.

by Leila Aboulela
Atlantic Monthly Press, February 2023

Hailed as “a versatile prose stylist” (New York Times) whose work “shows the rich possibilities of living in the West with different, non-Western, ways of knowing and thinking” (Sunday Herald), Leila Aboulela has been longlisted for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction) multiple times, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. She has been praised by J.M. Coetzee, Ali Smith, Aminatta Forna, and Anthony Marra, among others, for her rich and nuanced depictions of Islamic spiritual and political life.
Her new novel, RAMMED EARTH, SCORCHED RIVERS, is a searching and deeply necessary look at the complex relationship between Britain and Sudan, Christianity and Islam, colonizer and colonized. Recounting the years leading up to the brutal British conquest of Sudan in 1898, this is the story of British General Charles George Gordon—known as Gordon of Khartoum, he defended the city against the Sudanese during the 1884 siege of Khartoum—and the fight to remove him from power. Told from the varying perspectives of a military rebel, a colonial judge, and a woman enslaved, this historical novel paints a complex portrait of the “tragic Victorian hero” who ultimately proved a disappointment to the Sudanese who trusted him, and an obstacle to the thousands of men and women who—against the odds and for a brief time—gained independence from all foreign rule through their will-power, subterfuge, and sacrifice.
Written from a modern Sudanese perspective, Aboulela’s latest novel examines the trials of war and the dynamism of human courage through the voices of society’s most unexpected heroes.

Leila Aboulela is the first ever winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Her novels include The Kindness of Enemies, The Translator (longlisted for the Orange Prize), Minaret, and Lyrics Alley, which was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She grew up in Khartoum, Sudan, and now lives in Aberdeen, Scotland.


This moving, thought-provoking, and surprising novel by an award-winning writer draws upon both history and today’s headlines to illuminate the relationship between Islam and the West

by Leila Aboulela
Weidenfeld & Nicolson (UK), August 2015 / Grove–Atlantic (US), 2016

Alternating between Scotland, 2010, and the Caucasus mountains of the 19th Century, fascinating thematic lines are drawn connecting the world we live in and what history has borne in the past. First we meet Imam Shamil, the legendary leader of the Muslim tribes of the Northern Caucasus who became the head of the anti-Russian resistance in the 19th century’s Caucasian War. As the Russian Empire pushed the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire and Persia, Shamil lead the last unification of Caucasian nations that fought desperately to resist Tsarist rule.

Switching to contemporary Scotland, here we meet Shamil’s descendants, modern-day Muslims who occupy a broad spectrum of thought when it comes to religious beliefs, the meaning of « jihad », and how much one should and could assimilate into « traditional » British society. The heart of this story is Natasha – half Russian, half Sudanese – a professor of Islamic studies whose own personal history evokes the highs and lows of Islam’s relationship with other cultures throughout recorded time. These two narratives inform, enhance, and challenge each other, resulting in a highly-accomplished, multi-layered novel that takes our ideas, shakes them up, and helps us reach a better understanding of both history and the world as we currently know it.

Leila Aboulela was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. All three of her previous novels, The Translator, Minaret and Lyrics Alley, were longlisted for the Orange Prize. 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 has also been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.