The Dialogue Society Book Group - Meeting 45: Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela

Tue, 28 Feb 2023 18:30 in Community Engagement

Venue: Online
Date: Tuesday, 28th February 2023
Time: 18:00-19:30

In this session of the Dialogue Society Book Group, we will explore Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela on Tuesday, 28th February 2023.

Publisher's Synopsis of Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela

An enchanting, deeply felt portrait of three women searching for freedom, from the three-times Orange Prize longlisted, Scottish Book Award and Caine Prize winner Leila Aboulela

Salma, happily married, tries every day to fit into life in Britain. When her first love contacts her, she is tempted to risk it all and return to Egypt.

Moni gave up a career in banking to care for her disabled son, but now her husband wants to move to Saudi Arabia - where she fears her son's condition will worsen.

Iman feels burdened by her beauty. In her twenties and already in her third marriage, she is treated like a pet and longs for freedom.

On a road trip to the Scottish Highlands, the women are visited by the Hoopoe on a remote hillside in Inverness, a sacred bird whose fables from Muslim and Celtic literature compel them to question the balance between faith and femininity, love, loyalty and sacrifice.

Brilliantly imagined, intense and haunting, Bird Summons confirms Leila Aboulela's reputation as one of our finest contemporary writers.

"Bird Summons is a magic carpet ride into the forest of history and the lives of women"
Deep and wild' Lucy Ellmann, Booker-shortlisted author of DUCKS, Newburyport

"Tender, but unsentimental… rooted in everyday experience without forsaking the spiritual, told in effortlessly enjoyable style."
Daily Mail

"Impressive… Aboulela’s novel is empathetic and insightful, offering a nuanced representation of the three characters through a blend of Islamic faith and Scottish folklore."
Publishers Weekly

About the Dialogue Society Book Group

The Dialogue Society Book Group explores the capacity of books to provide windows into different cultural and intercultural worlds. We will be choosing a series of quality novels to read and then to discuss together at relaxed, sociable gatherings at the Dialogue Society. Participants are welcome to suggest books for future sessions.

Participants will need to find a copy of the book chosen for each meeting and will need to read it prior to the meeting.

We will have a conversation about the book and our responses to it. Discussion may cover:

  • the quality of the storytelling
  • the authenticity and accuracy with which a historical/cultural situation is portrayed
  • our personal responses to it

You do not need to be an expert on literature or anything else to join in. The group should be enjoyable for anyone who enjoys a good book and likes discovering new ones.

Prospective books for future sessions (NB we are open to suggestions)

  • An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway