Where the Heart Is: The Concept of “Home” in Leila Aboulela’s Short Fiction

Eiman Abbas H. El-Nour


In most of her works, Leila Aboulela focuses on Sudanese characters in the diaspora. Her protagonists are usually young Sudanese migrants who had left home in search of a better life abroad, or to escape a desperate reality at home. In this journey, they live in a constant state of exile: the new abode fails to become home, and they are left existing in a state of suspension between the new reality and a past they are emotionally and spiritually stuck in. This paper tackles the concept of home in its actual and virtual manifestations through the lives of her short stories protagonists, their quest for one’s identity and keeping (or losing) it when confronting the other.
The female characters are found to be more solid than their male counterparts in their nostalgia and attachment to the original home and its values. This enabled them to keep the fabric of their identity intact. When confronting the other, or when engaging in a relationship, “things do not fall apart” in this encounter. In fact, the other has to compromise to be accepted. This contrasts with the male characters, who are easily assimilated in the new environment, but not without a faint sense of guilt and a fair share of self-deception.


Aboulela; Exile; Homeland; Identity; Migration; Other

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/8756


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