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The Translator by Leila Aboulela (thoughts)

June 7, 2011

This is an exquisite novel; a love story between not only a man and a woman but between a woman and her religion. Sammar, the main character, feels real right from the beginning, and I was completely invested in her. All of the characters, major and minor, seem like complete human beings, which is a rare feat.  Aboulela is also marvelous at evoking a sense of place: both Aberdeen and Khartoum are created so vividly I felt like I was there. Really, every aspect of her prose is marvelous: it manages to be lush and spare at the same time, with a flow that never falters. Throw in looks at academia and Orientalism, an unusual depiction of motherhood, and achingly real depictions of grief and loneliness, and this has become one of my very favourite reads of the year.  I’d highly recommend this to everyone, and I suspect I’ve found a new favourite author (I’ve already requested Minaret from the library).

Suggested Companion Reads (linked to my thoughts)

24 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 8:17 am

    Thank you for this one, Eva. I hadn’t heard of the author and am adding The Translator to my TBR list.

  2. June 7, 2011 8:56 am

    A book that takes place in both Aberdeen and Khartoum? Definitely sounds like something I would be interested it!

  3. June 7, 2011 9:30 am

    Ah, I read this a long time ago and also just loved it…great review!

  4. June 7, 2011 10:44 am

    added to my “for later” list! Sounds good.

  5. June 7, 2011 11:43 am

    Oh this author is on my ‘want to read soon’ list so I’m glad you talked about this one. Sounds interesting! I will be adding it to the ever growing wish list :)

  6. June 7, 2011 1:25 pm

    Ooh, this sounds fantastic! I’ve never heard of it before but I’m immediately compelled to add it to my list.

  7. June 7, 2011 3:53 pm

    The characters in this book sound fabulous!

  8. June 7, 2011 5:05 pm

    Interesting thoughts Eva. I read ‘Lyrics Alley’ for my Orange Prize longlist self impossed challenge and whilst I was disatisfied with that particular book, I could see an author I knew I would love it was just the book (feel free to pop and see why and what bothered me about this book) didnt convince. Maybe I should try this one?

    • June 7, 2011 5:35 pm

      I did look at your thoughts on Lyrics Alley; this one has a much tighter focus and Sammar drives the entire story, so I think it’d be a good second try. :) (Also, in reply to your other comment, I’ll definitely keep doing the vlogs since so many say they don’t mind the lack of extras! Tune this Friday, lol.)

  9. June 7, 2011 6:51 pm

    I read the first pages and was hooked. I also love the cover and premis of Lyrics Alley but in reading the comments, the third novel doesn’t sound as well done as the first?

    • June 7, 2011 9:54 pm

      I haven’t read it so can’t comment, but I’m sure I’ve seen some positive reviews in my reader. :)

  10. Kathleen permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:07 pm

    It’s hard to resist a book where the characters are so real. Glad you have found a new author to enjoy!

  11. June 8, 2011 4:23 am

    Don’t you just love it when you find a new author to love! Lovely review Eva and lovely to have you back.

  12. June 8, 2011 5:26 am

    Sounds like a lovely book. Putting it on my “books to check out” list.

  13. June 8, 2011 7:55 am

    I hadn’t heard of this book or author, Eva, but your review, the synopsis, and the words “one of my favourite books of the year” have my attention!

  14. June 8, 2011 3:55 pm

    This sounds totally beautiful. I’m surprised I haven’t come across it before now. I’m also adoring the cover, too.

  15. June 8, 2011 10:08 pm

    Ahh, I am intrigued. Must put this on my list…..
    Kudos to you for suggesting No God but God and Season of Migration to the North. I enjoyed both books too !

  16. June 9, 2011 12:17 pm

    Beautiful short review, Eva! My ‘TBR’ list is overflowing now :) I have never read a book set in Sudan and so this looks really fascinating.

  17. June 10, 2011 5:27 pm

    Academia, Orientalism, Religion, Love, I’m sold. :)


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