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In “Elsewhere, Home,” Characters Grapple With Homesickness, Love, And Assimilation

by BUST Magazine


Elsewhere, Home 
By Leila Aboulela
(Grove Press/Black Cat)

Author Leila Aboulela takes readers from Khartoum, Sudan, to Aberdeen, Scotland, and back in Elsewhere, Home, a collection of 13 stories about belonging, human connection, and the complexities of leaving home. Though Aboulela’s subjects range in age and background, there’s a link: all of them grapple with homesickness, love, and assimilation. Aboulela addresses these themes through characters including Samra, a young woman who, while flying back to Khartoum, runs into an old classmate who once was a target of her ridicule; Dina, a biracial British student who develops feelings for a Muslim boy working at a kebab shop; and the unnamed housewife of the collection’s final story, who connects deeply with a famous writer, only to feel let down when they finally meet.

Though some stories are more memorable than others—particular standouts are “Pages of Fruit,” “The Museum,” and “Summer Maze,” while “Farida’s Eyes” falls short by comparison—Aboulela’s writing throughout is beautiful and full of easy dialogue and insight. Though she tackles many heavier, broader themes in her writing, Aboulela excels most at portraying the nuances of day-to-day life and the pains of missing—and returning—home. (4/5)

By Lydia Wang

The Hundred Wells of Salaga was released February 12, 2019.This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST MagazineSubscribe today!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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