In 1950s Sudan, the powerful Abuzeid dynasty has amassed a fortune through their trading firm with Mahmoud Bey at its helm. But when Mahmoud’s son, Nur, suffers a debilitating accident, the family is suddenly divided in the face of an uncertain future.
As British rule nears its end, Sudan is torn between modernizing influences and the call of traditions past — a conflict reflected in Mahmoud’s two wives: Nabilah, who longs to escape the dust of “backward-looking” Sudan, and Waheeba, who lives traditionally within the confines of her open-air kitchen. It is not until Nur begins to assert himself outside the strict cultural limits that both his own spirit and the frayed bonds of his family can begin to mend.
This sweeping tale by the IMPAC and Orange Prize– nominated writer is one of the most accomplished and evocative portraits ever written about Sudanese society at the time of independence. – Publishers Website
This is the first of the long-listed books for the 2011 Orange Prize I intend to read in the next few months. As you may or may not know, the winner of the prize will be announced on June 18, 2011.
I enjoyed getting to see a snapshot into 1950’s Sudan, while this family and many others were trying to establish their own voice. Something of which is still happening in this area today. The older parents and elders of the family already stuck in their own ways learnt from their elders, the young people learning those ways and incorporating their own amid turmoil, non acceptance from their parents, and war.
It was interesting how some things do change over time, and some do not. The accident of Nur twists and turns the family apart and fighting to find their own voice, their way of dealing with the pain and uncertainty of what will be.