Any plans to read a book this weekend? Ditch that novel you’ve been thinking about and check out Leila Aboulela’s short story collection Elsewhere, Home. It was published by Grove Atlantic earlier this year. The collection contains 13 stories about the imagination of home as loss and desire.
Aboulela is an endearing storyteller. There is a kindness in her tempered tone. Read her books to get away from the cliché and sensationalism in mainstream fiction. She gives you story not drama. The stories in this collection feel like that quiet place in the world of fiction where you can actually watch life take place.
Aboulela lives in Aberdeen, but she was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. In 2000, she made history by being the first ever winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
What makes her stories genius is that she makes the quiet of every day life the space of storytelling.
For example, much of the story in “Souvenir” takes place during a brother and sister’s drive in search of an artist’s house. But within that short span of time during which the characters are doing something as ordinary as driving around town, the story expands and shifts from Khartoum to Scotland and back, from childhood to romantic love and marriage.
Elsewhere, Home is an alluring book. You will love the focus on little things. You will find the unhurried pace of the narration immersive and revitalizing.
Elsewhere, Home is the get-away book for when you want to shut out all the noise and chaos in exchange for a moving exploration of the small but bewitching things in life.