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The Museum
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Archived | 2018 Short stories > The Museum by Leila Aboulela (1-15th Apr)

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message 1: by PS, Short Story Reading Chief (last edited Mar 16, 2018 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

PS | 143 comments Mod
We will be reading The Museum by Leila Aboulela between the 1-15th of April.

Sudan's Leila Aboulela won the inaugural Caine Prize in 2000 for her short story "The Museum" included in her collection of short stories Coloured Lights.

Who will be joining us for this read?


message 2: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Crampton (cramptonmargaret) | 46 comments Unfortunately I can’t find it on kindle. Disappointing


message 3: by PS, Short Story Reading Chief (last edited Mar 16, 2018 06:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

PS | 143 comments Mod
It's not available on kindle, like I said in an earlier comment in the schedule discussion, you have to either 1) read it online if it's an image PDF 2) if you can copy the text, please paste it in a word document and email it to your kindle email address.

I've linked to the story in my first comment. You can read it online. Unfortunately, you can't copy this particular story to a word document because it's an image pdf (in other words: a scanned copy)


message 4: by Aysha (new)

Aysha Bisimwa Ali (ayshabis) | 2 comments I will be joining you for this one! Ive been doing a similar reading journey on my own, and am excited to find this group. :)


message 5: by Cam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cam | 95 comments I really enjoyed that story. Maybe it's because the setting feels so familiar...but I just found myself mumbling "ha!" and "yes!" so many times throughout, and wanting to read out sentences to share.
So many little moments:
*the hair-hating
*the they're-so-much-friendlier-than-don-south
*the let's-not-talk-about-racism
*the loneliness of foreign students and the 'home'/overseas students divide
*the social class question and how different forms of capital (don't) travel
*the disconnect between your different lives, even when you don't want there to be one
*missing the adhan
*museums and the continued glorification of empire -_- (slowly slowly slowly changing........ hopefully)
*how to explain and share and how much it takes out of you


message 6: by Diane, Head Librarian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 441 comments Mod
I enjoyed the story, I only wish it hadn't ended so abruptly.


message 7: by Wim, French Readings (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wim | 668 comments Mod
I also enjoyed the story. As I am reading King Leopold's Ghost in the same time, I felt very well how the museum and the way explorers and colonizers are glorified hurts and widens the divide between the worlds of Bryan and Shadia.


message 8: by Anetq, Tour Operator & Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anetq | 699 comments Mod
That was a very nice little story - sad, but well told. It does a great job of describing the feeling of foreign-ness (been there!) and the cultural gaps that can feel like a giant abyss. Is it just me thinking there is an opening in the story for them to have a future together anyway, a way to bridge the gap? The narrator did not want to talk to him or go out with him to begin with - telling herself she could just not show up. (And even if she does miss her home, she doesn't seem particularly keen on the future husband or their home with golden taps?)


George P. | 188 comments I like the story, very nicely-told. Great depiction of cultural and class divides, the "stranger in a strange land". I felt like perhaps the greatest barrier for this couple to move on in a relationship was the woman's class prejudice against the fellow student who was the son of a carpenter (joiner). The cultural differences added to this of course.


message 10: by PS, Short Story Reading Chief (last edited Apr 05, 2018 02:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

PS | 143 comments Mod
Cam wrote: "I really enjoyed that story. Maybe it's because the setting feels so familiar...but I just found myself mumbling "ha!" and "yes!" so many times throughout, and wanting to read out sentences to shar..."

Cam, I loved this, it felt really familiar to me too (having been in similar situations myself).

There is so much to discuss in this story. I agree: social class and capital do not always travel when you move from the global south to the north. The exchange between them in the cafeteria is so illuminating: "Fareed hired people like that [Bryan's father] to work on the house. Ordered them about". And then the bit about her father's profession: "a doctor, a specialist" and her mother from a "ruling family".

George wrote: "I felt like perhaps the greatest barrier for this couple to move on in a relationship was the woman's class prejudice against the fellow student who was the son of a carpenter (joiner).." This and also the fact that I guess that he viewed Africa through the lens of an explorer: a place to discover (just like the imperialists) and she didn't really have the strength to explain, to bridge that chasm between them.

I love this line: "If she had been strong she would have explained, and not tired of explaining". I think this sums up the immigrant experience, especially if you come from the global south.


message 11: by PS, Short Story Reading Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

PS | 143 comments Mod
Wim wrote: "I also enjoyed the story. As I am reading King Leopold's Ghost in the same time, I felt very well how the museum and the way explorers and colonizers are glorified hurts and widens th..."

Ugh yes. Brings to mind the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford with its displays of shrunken heads. And this article: Over 1,000 African skulls in Berlin are a reminder of Europe’s dark colonial history

I love how Shadia expected sunglight and photographs of the Nile at the musuem – instead, it was a colonial display in a dark dingy setting.


message 12: by PS, Short Story Reading Chief (last edited Apr 05, 2018 02:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

PS | 143 comments Mod
Diane, I wish it had been longer too! I really want to read more by Leila Aboulela now. The Translator sounds really interesting! Anyone up for that?

Annette: I thought that they would end up together too, it seemed like that anyway in the beginning, especially since she didn't seem to be too keen on Fareed and wasn't particularly looking forward to their life together. This story really reminded me of Americanah and the title story in The Thing Around Your Neck. Similar themes.


message 13: by George P. (last edited May 10, 2018 03:42PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

George P. | 188 comments A month has passed and I'm now reading another short (21 page) story by Aboulela titled "Something Old, Something New" which I found in African Love Stories: An Anthology (2006) edited by A. A. Aidoo. They have it in the university library near me which gives me borrowing privilege. It also concerns romance between a young European man and Sudanese woman. So far I like it and will perhaps post again when finished.


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