Friday, March 11, 2011

Leila Aboulela

Leila Aboulela's new novel Lyrics Alley is inspired by the life of her uncle, the late Sudanese poet Hassan Awad Aboulela.

From her Q & A with Donna Walters Kozberg at Publishers Weekly:

When did you discover your uncle's poetry?

I discovered it late in life even though I had always known that he was famous. Hassan was older than my father and my father had looked up to him. But my father's assessment of Hassan as a poet was in line with the family elders' interpretation: Hassan turned to poetry to comfort himself after an accident; he composed jingles that became popular largely due to his family's endorsement of musicians who turned Hassan's lyrics into songs. In addition, this conservative, proud family were upfront about the fact that if it wasn't for their son's disability, they wouldn't have supported his literary career. So I grew up aware of Hassan's fame but I did not know the songs.

Did you consider writing a biography rather than a novel?

No, I never did. Although the identity of Hassan's sweetheart and muse is not a secret among the wider family and their close circle, it would have offended her children to see their mother's name in a published book or in newspaper reviews. Besides, sticking to factual details would have stifled me. Hassan's story is the nucleus of Lyrics Alley. Around him revolve imaginary characters like ...[read on]
Visit Leila Aboulela's website.

--Marshal Zeringue