Award-winning author and former parent Leila Aboulelah received a very warm welcome when she returned to school today to read from and chat about her latest novel, Bird Summons.
A Conversation with Leila Aboulelah was hosted by third year pupils and we were delighted to have so many members of the public attend. The reading was followed by a Q&A and an opportunity to buy signed copies of her books, courtesy of Waterstones in Aberdeen.
Leila, whose daughter Manaal attended the school, read a passage from Bird Summons, the fascinating story of three Muslim women living in Scotland who embark on a pilgrimage to visit the grave of Lady Evelyn Cobbold, the first British woman to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.
During the Q&A, Leila spoke about what inspires her writing: her feelings of being homesick for her homeland of Sudan when she first moved to Aberdeen in 1992, the connections she discovered between Scotland and Sudan, her faith, and Bob Marley! She also spoke about the challenges of writing in a secular climate.
Born in Cairo, Leila grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Aberdeen. She is the author of five novels, Bird Summons, The Translator (a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year), The Kindness of Enemies, Minaret and Lyrics Alley (Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards).
Her work has received critical recognition and a high profile for its distinctive exploration of identity, migration and Islamic spirituality. She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award.
Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and she was long-listed three times for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her plays The Insider, The Mystic Life and others were broadcast on BBC Radio and her fiction included in publications such as Freeman’s and Harper’s Magazine.