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Leila Aboulela

Events for Leila Aboulela
Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

Event 174 Friday 3 March, 3pm-4pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“I moved from heat to cold, from the Third World to the First… I also moved from a religious Muslim culture to a secular one and that move was the most disturbing of all, the trauma that no amount of time could cure, an eternal culture shock.” – Leila Aboulela

What do you gain and what do you lose when you leave everything that you know behind and embrace life in a new environment? For the authors in today’s panel, this is a constant question, as each has had to redefine themselves in the face of a new culture.

Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum but moved to Aberdeen with her husband and children, a relocation that inspired her first novel, The Translator. Her journey has also seen detours to London, Jakarta, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Paul MacAlindin is from Scotland, but his work as a conductor has taken him around the world – most notably to Iraq, a country he knew next to nothing about when he took on the project of helping young musicians found the National Youth Orchestra.

Language: English

Culture Shock: Facing the Unknown

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Mystic Life by Leila Aboulela: A Play Reading

Event 38 Sunday 5 March, 7pm-8pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“If you have faith and you’re good, if you’re not harming anyone, shouldn’t that be enough?” – Leila Aboulela, Mystic Life

Come and hear Leila Aboulela’s short radio play Mystic Life read onstage by a number of local actors, followed by a Q&A with the playwright herself!

Mystic Life begins with a scholar in Daghestan hearing a strange knock at the door, then shifts focus back and forth between his tale and that of a young Muslim man and woman who have conflicting views on what it means to be good and have faith, in an increasingly culturally complicated and hostile world.

Leila Aboulela is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works have often graced the prestigious Orange Prize longlist. She grew up in Khartoum and moved to Aberdeen with her husband and children many years ago, a culture shock which she describes as “eternal” and has inspired a body of work which always has something insightful to say about culture and identity, subjects which we particularly relate to in the multicultural UAE!

Cast:
KASSIM/STUDENT:   Hisham Khan
SATAN:            Bryan MacKenzie
BASHEER:          Osman Aboubakr
SAMIA:            Defne Gursoy
DINA/LOST GIRL:   Hala Bassar
MOTHER:          Aida Laubach
SFX: Wayne Dorsey

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Mystic Life by Leila Aboulela: A Play Reading

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Penning the Past: When History Meets Fiction

Event 24 Friday 3 March, 6pm-7pm Al Ras 1, InterContinental

“You have to absolutely pack your head with information… then there comes a point at which you shut all the books and let your imagination take over.” – Tanya Landman

Three authors with very different approaches to writing about history discuss how they bring the past to life – and why it is so important not only to learn the facts of history, but to empathise with people of the past.

In Leila Aboulela’s The Kindness of Enemies, the action moves between contemporary Scotland, 20th century Sudan and the Caucasus mountains in the 19th century, where Imam Shamil defends his people from Tsarist Russia.

Tanya Landman’s Hell and High Water stars a mixed-race boy in 18th century Devon, while the Carnegie-winning Buffalo Soldier, inspired by a true story, pits a freed slave serving in the US Army against Apache warriors in a shameful episode from American history.

Simon Scarrow is most famous for his Eagle series, in which legionaries Cato and Macro travel the world from Britannia to Syria to the corrupt city of Rome itself – in Invictus, they travel to rebellious Spain to quell an uprising.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

Penning the Past: When History Meets Fiction

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The Kindness of Enemies

Event 40 Saturday 4 March, 5pm-6pm Al Ras 2, InterContinental

“As Leila Aboulela’s new novel reminds us, to ask where we come from, to choose where we belong, is not a simple matter at all.” – New York Times review of The Kindness of Enemies

Leila Aboulela’s novel The Kindness of Enemies shifts between a present in which academic Natasha Wilson, a ‘failed hybrid’ of identities, feels she belongs nowhere; and a past in which noblewoman Anna is taken hostage by the Caucasian rebel leader Imam Shamil and begins to question her own place in the world.

Aboulela has established a reputation as a writer with an insightful grasp of the subtleties of culture and identity – this is a chance to hear her speak in person about these universal but challenging questions.

Language: English, with simultaneous Arabic translation

The Kindness of Enemies

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