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Elsewhere, Home

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Since her award-winning debut novel, Minaret, Leila Aboulela 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 latest collection, Elsewhere, Home, draws us ineluctably into the lives of immigrants at home and abroad as they forge new identities and res ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published July 2nd 2018)
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3.84  · 
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 ·  111 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Leila Aboulela’s collection of short stories in Elsewhere Home focuses on the sorrow of people who have left their homeland, and live a life that, for them, is emotionally somewhere in between their adopted home and the home of their heart, always yearning for some part of home. The alienation of living in a land unlike the one they were accustomed to, and finding a way to hold onto one’s identity without upsetting the balance of life for all.

”Her country disturbed him. It
I had mixed feelings about these stories - there are 13 - something of a usual number in short story collections. So my favourite overall was "Expecting to Give", it's about a young woman pregnant for the first time, waiting for her husband to return from the oil rig where he works. Like several of the stories this one is set in the north of Scotland, there's no specific mention of city but I'll assume it's Aberdeen like the others. I liked this because it captures so exactly those feelings and ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
This punchy, yet poised,  collection of short stories by Leila Aboulela explores displacement of a variety of different types; the displacement felt by a young English-Egyptian girl on her trips back to Egypt, of not really belonging and yet mysteriously drawn to her mother-land, of a young English woman recently converted to Islam, of the Scotsman who feels hopelessly disaffected when visiting his fiancee's family in Khartoum  and of the displacement felt by so many immigrants as they leave the ...more
A collection of short stories about Egyptian natives and immigrants, who either revisit their country or are holding on to the last thread of connection to their homeland.

I really liked Aboulela's writing style. Her writing has a distinct nostalgic yet powerful touch to it, which even gave me goosebumps. I always used to think why immigrants weren't keen on knowing their culture and homeland, but this book changed my entire perception on that topic. The generation gap and the problems arising wi
This book is a compilation of short stories. The endearing aspect of the book is that the stories are about people and circumstances you can identify with. And yet, almost none of the stories exploit the potential the build up offers - skimming the surface of characterisation or relationships. Quite a few deal with multi-cultural relationships and yet you are left feeling there is something missing.

Character building, tempo and lasting impressions are more difficult to create in short stories.
Priyanka Sofia
Such beautiful stories, but what else does one expect from Leila Aboulela?!

I’m supposed to review this elsewhere so I’ll keep this short and say: please read this. Aboulela takes you to Sudan, Egypt, England, Scotland, and the UAE through her words and along the way humanises regions and a religion so maligned and poorly understood in the West.

My favourites:

- Summer Maze
- The Ostrich
- Souvenirs
- The Museum

Also highly recommend:

- Something Old, Something New
- Pages of Fruit
Michelle Sibley
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of short stories however being an expat the title appealed to me. Thirteen short stories on being Elsewhere Home. With them all being based in the UK and the Middle East I could really relate to them. The first one really touched me, I felt I was back in Egypt, I could almost smell it. The B and P mix up. Blease. Brought back so many memories.

I enjoyed these stories, I felt the author really got to heart of the complicated mix of feeling you experience when your Elsewhere Home.

A v
These short stories cover a variety of characters who find themselves living away from their homeland or their parent's homeland. A variety of situations are covered of people who miss their families, of those who have moved on, those who cope and those who don't. These stories tell of the complexities of life for people who are different, their feelings towards religion, and how they deal with separation, racism and bigotry within and outside of their communities. The book left me with the remi ...more
Kamila Kunda
All in all I am not as impressed with Leila Aboulela’s collection of short stories “Elsewhere, Home” as I hoped to be. I read some of them over ten years ago in her first, now out of print, collection “Coloured Lights” (and this title story remains my favourite). They showed a new world for me then. I didn’t know any writer who would tackle the topics she did, write about bridges between cultures in such a simple and honest way. Living in London then I saw Sudanese women all the time and Aboulel ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aboulela maintains a certain to describe it? It's gentle and "soft-spoken" but with impeccable pacing, the tension and urgency build and then release.

These short stories are beautiful pieces of writing but they end too soon for my taste. My favorite stories were: Summer Maze, The Ostrich, The Boy from the Kebab House, Coloured Lights, and The Museum.

I prefer her novel-length stories where in the course of a book, she draws out the reading experience.

Thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGa
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-release, 2019, arc
Thanks to NetGalley for providing this arc!

Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: muslim-reads
I absolutely loved this collection of short stories about people who straddle cultures or homes in different countries and how difficult that is. Some of the stories deal with major life events, but others are about quiet, everyday moments and how being half this and half that and living half here and half there affects even those moments. The majority of the characters are Egyptian or Sudanese women living in England or Scotland. 

This is a must-read book for expats, third-culture kids, or anyon
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elsewhere home is a collection of short stories following the lives of various women (and a few men) in Africa. Many of the stories explore the characters' experiences straddling the line between their "home" in Africa and their home in Europe. Some of them are comfortable with their dual identity, while others are not sure whether they fit in to either place. We see various degrees of wealth, and each story is beautifully written. I personally don't particularly like collections of short storie ...more
April Perdomo
The subject matter of this book got me immediately. As an ESL teacher, I am always interested in the perspectives and stories of those whose lives are torn between two places: immigrants carry the country they left and the country they currently live in. On top of that this book also highlights the very much under-served topic of the Muslim immigrant experience. I appreciate the value in the topics this book explores.

Elsewhere Home is a book of short stories detailing the experiences of immigra
Sam Law
Read More Book Reviews on my blog It's Good To Read

A collection of thirteen short stories, from the viewpoint of Muslims living in Scotland, or having Scotland as a base/destination.

The themes are invariably homesickness, a cultural disconnect with either their religion, or a distance from their home country (invariably Egypt).

The stories are wide and varied, from the young newly-pregnant wife in “Expecting to Give”, waiting for her husband to come back off the North Sea oil rigs on
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home is a well-written short story collection about characters—mostly Egyptian and Sudanese—who are displaced and trying to make lives and homes in England and Scotland. I appreciated the insights into the home cultures of these characters that their stories revealed, and learned a lot about their religious observances, marriage ceremonies, food and traditions, which I think is so important in the midst of the xenophobic atmosphere in the world and, particularly for t ...more
I could see little happiness. A lot of resignation, the longing for the roots home, but also the pull of a better, modern life. There is no better place or better choice. No character can be judged, but as a reader you can just accept them and feel for them. The characters are from different backgrounds so this gives a more inclusive perspective on the Sudanese culture.

What surprised me was that despite having no knowledge of the Sudanese culture and literature, these stories read in a universa
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These short stories are really beautiful and take the reader on a journey through multiple countries, each giving a sense of yearning for home - whether that "home" is the culture the character grew up in, or the one they settled in later in life. The contrast between the "here" and the "there" is crafted wonderfully by Leila Aboulela's work, and the emotions feel very real.

What is a shame is that each story has so much potential, and a build-up... and just as you're starting to frantically turn
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I will admit when I requested this on Netgalley, I wasn't aware of the fact that this novel consisted for 13 short stories. I'm not a major fan of short stories as I've found them to be very hit and miss for me. Unfortunately, this was the case with this novel as well.

Out of the thirteen short stories, I enjoyed 7 of them, which is more than what I was expecting to like. My favourites were:

- Summer Maze
- Farida's Eyes
- The Boy From the Kebab Shop
- Expecting to Give
- The Aromatherapist's Husband
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first encountered Leila Aboulela's writing with her short story The Museum published in the 1999 anthology Opening Spaces (edited by the unforgetable Yvonne Vera). I fell in love with this story about a young Sudanese woman, Shadia, who is an university student in Scotland, and tries to navigate this new setting. Thus, I was excited when Elsewhere, Home was published. A book collecting stories Aboulela has written and published over the last twenty years, from The Museum to Pages of Fruit (fir ...more
Anita Eti
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice collection of short stories. There were some really good ones and some not so great ones. I could relate to some of the themes in the stories because of my background as a first-generation immigrant so it was nice having that connection.

I think my favorite story in this was the one about the woman who writes to her favorite author and begins feels like the author is a close friend who understands her, but when they finally meet she finds the author is very different from what she imagined.
John Stotesbury
A collection of previously published stories, not all of them good, and one or two of the later ones in the collection patchily edited. But all of them are extremely readable and frequently thought-provoking, since Aboulela's writerly perspective is consistently "different", "Muslim", unEuropean. What this does to her writing, which on the surface has always been shaped by Western conventions -- and remains so here -- becomes the primary challenge for the Western, secular reader. I still haven't ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many reviews of Leila Aboulela’s Elsewhere, Home describe it as a short story collection focusing on the immigrant experience, of displaced individuals trying to reconcile differences in culture and identity, weather and food. But I found it more universal than is. It’s also about young people yearning to separate from the restrictions of their family home, only to discover that once alone, they miss the comfort of the familiar and all they’ve left behind. A beautiful collection, exploring the v ...more
Nicola Short
Thank you to Net Gallery for the opportunity to read and review this book.
This book was very confusing to me.
First of all, I was unaware it was going to be short stories. I am not a fan of short stories and stay away from reading them.
Second, it just felt unfinished to me. Maybe due to the short story aspect? I’m not sure but I did not enjoy this book.
Overall, if you like short stories, this is a good book for you.
This is a collection of short stories, the theme of many of them being the reconciliation of European and Arab culture - within a marriage, the individual and, at times, both. I appreciated the insight that went into all of these stories. Overall, I really enjoyed this collection – most of them I really liked though I found my mind wandering as I read others. This is a quick, enjoyable read - I would recommend it. Thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review these stories.
Connie Liñares
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this book are fiction, but they may as well not be. As I read them, they didn't feel as stories someone had imagined, but as a retelling of somebody's experiences. The characters felt real, human, someone you could meet at any time. No extravagant situations, just depictions of cultures meeting and acknowledging their differences.
I felt "Elsewhere home" is a poetic description for immigration.
Thanks NetGalley for my copy of this book.
Kathleen Gray
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are 13 stories in this slim volume. Some of them you'll find to be just the right length and others, well others you wish were much longer. Aboulela has written beautifully about the dislocations immigrants experience. In most cases, the characters are shifting between Sudan and Scotland but there are touchdowns elsewhere as well. Perfect for dipping in and out, highly topical, and nicely written. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Short story fans should try this!
Bigi Parsons
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each of he stories Abulela includes in Elsewhere, Home' reveals a new view into the dilemmas faced by women living/studying/getting married in a culture different from that which was the country where they were born. I found the book particularly revealing of the longings for home and the cultural differences faced by the more affluent and educated woman traveller. Not much I have read has been written about Sudan so that too was revelatory. ...more
Elizabeth Grieve
Not for me. When I requested a review copy, the fact that it was a collection of short stories was not in the description. I'm not a big fan of short stories generally. I read several of them but it was not really to my taste as there's no plot or character development, more a quick glimpse into a life.
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.
Mommy Reads And Reviews
Thank you to Netgalley for an arc of this short story collection. This is such a well written selection of stories that it’s hard to pick one as a favourite. I enjoyed them all so much. They all examine the meeting of Muslim and British (mostly Scottish) cultures. Fascinating and enlightening and simply wonderfully written!!!!
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Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum, Sudan where she attended the Khartoum American School and Sister School. She graduated from Khartoum University in 1985 with a degree in Economics and was awarded her Masters degree in statistics from the London School of Economics. She lived for many years in Aberdeen where she wrote most of her works while looking after her family; she currently lives and lect ...more
“He dislikes it if I walk a few steps behind him. ‘What would people think,’ he says, ‘that we are backward, barbaric.’ He sneers at the Arab women in black abayas walking behind their men. ‘Oppressed, that’s what people would think of them. Here they respect women, treat them as equal; we must be the same,’ he says. So I have to be careful not to fall behind him in step and must bear the weight of his arm around my shoulder, another gesture he had decided to imitate to prove that, though we are Arabs and Africans, we can be modern too.” 0 likes
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