With Sudan again hovering at the precipice of uncertainty and hope, and the Arab world writhing under the weight of popular upheaval, Leila Aboulela’s dynastic novel Lyrics Alley (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London, £ 12.99)— which unveils the tumultuous history of the powerful Abuzeid family along-side the death throes of imperial rule—could not be more timely.

It is the 1950s. Aboulela encapsulates the crumbling old order and the dawn of a new age in Sudan, Cairo and London. An age in which trajectories of faith, modernity and personal autonomy were as vital as they are now, played out by each character as he or she negotiates their own path to redemption.

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