Leila Aboulela is a Sudanese-born writer whose work, written in English, has received critical acclaim and a high profile for its distinctive exploration of identity, migration and Islamic spirituality.
Highlighting the challenges facing Muslims in Europe and “telling the stories of flawed complex characters who struggle to make choices using Muslim logic”, Aboulela’s work explores significant political issues. Her personal faith and the move, in her mid-twenties, from Sudan to Scotland are a major influence on her work.
Literary influences include Arab authors Tayeb Salih and Naguib Mahfouz as well as Ahdaf Soueif, Jean Rhys, Anita Desai and Doris Lessing. The Scottish literary landscape and writers such as Alan Spence and Robin Jenkins have also been influential. Leila Aboulela’s works have been included in cultural educational programs supported by the British Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US. Her restrained lyricism, irony and clarity has received praise from Nobel Prize winner J.M Coetzee, Ben Okri and Ali Smith.