today, I woke up and in spite of a sunny day, stayed in bed and read a novel, form the beginning to the end, no interruptions.
It didn't seem to me such a good novel as a piece of literature, maybe it's the translator's fault. The thing is that it brought back memories of my first serious novel, by a Polish writer Henry Sienkiewicz, 'Through the Desert and Wilderness'. That one counts the story of a boy and a girl, children of a Polish and a British engineers, kidnapped by Mahdi's followers and taken to Sudan. The novel transpires the colonialist views of Africa.
'Lyrics Alley' by Leila Aboulela, counts the story of a Sudanese merchant family in 1950's depicting the atmosphere of a country at the verge of independence form Britain and form Egypt. I liked the way it portrays the different aspects of Islam, and how it affects the lives of the people; how the women of the family deal with the oppression of the tradition. Maybe I'm imagining but it also talks wise words about living conditions that could affect any of us. Leila's voice is of an insider aware of the rules and intricacies of the life of the country.
The contrast between the two novels is great. The Polish novel is so naive about the way the children escape and find their way home, about the role of the foreigners in the country, and about love that links young Stas and Nell. He, few years older than her, kills the men who kidnapped them and takes care of her in the middle of the wilderness. They were my childhood heroes and that brings a smile and the memories of my own imaginary adventures in the wild.
In Leila's novel, Soraya can't count on her childhood love to rescue her and give her the freedom she desires. She finds her own way through education and marriage leaving behind the one she loves. Nothing is black and white, no one is completely bad or good. They are just people, doing the best they can, bind by their heritage, longing for their dreams. The wise bit comes when those dreams are crushed by Fate and they have to let go of what won't be. They are forced to deal with the blows and in a way those blows bring the best in them.
Curious enough both novels are set in times of political unrest in the area, just like now.