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Sweetness in the belly
Camilla Gibb
Adult Fiction GIBB

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From Publishers' Weekly:

While Kate Reading has a beautiful narrator's voice, low and lilting, dramatic and enticing, her characterizations are problematic. She often uses an annoying little-girl voice for protagonist Lilly, a white Western woman raised in a Moroccan shrine as a devout Muslim, living through the 1970s among Ethiopian Muslims who consider her a "forenji" (foreigner) despite her Arabic fluency and her Islamic piety. Reading also casts many of the Ethiopian women in a harsh, high range that makes them sound rather silly. Still, this is an engrossing listen because the novel is well written and timely. Gibb's prose rhythms are lovely, her language sensuous, her images vivid and her story of love doomed by political reality dramatic and moving. We move back and forth between the daily routines of deeply devoted families in Harar in the 1970s as Ethiopia disintegrates, and of the exile community in London in the '80s as Lilly awaits word of her Sudanese lover, who chose to stay on to fight the Haile Selassie regime. Without avoiding cultural aspects Westerners find so repulsive-a description of ritual clitoridectomy is almost unbearable-the reading exposes us to Muslim communities quite different from those written about in daily newspapers, communities worthy of respect, concern and action. Available as a Penguin Press paperback. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Called farenji-foreigner-in Ethiopia and subsequently nurse at London's Lambeth Hospital, Lilly is a devout white Muslim woman who doesn't really belong to one culture. When she was eight, her wandering parents left her in the care of the Great Abdal-and never returned owing to a fatal car accident. Soon after, the local saint became Lilly's guardian and taught her the Qur'an. In 1969, when political upheaval comes to Morocco, she makes a pilgrimage to the ancient city of Harar in Ethiopia. Here she begins to teach the Qur'an to local children and falls in love with a young doctor who leaves an indelible mark on her life. In 1974, she is again forced to flee, this time to London. Canadian writer Gibb (The Petty Details) intertwines time, cultures, politics, race, and family, giving readers an inside look at life as a foreigner in a different culture than most of us experience. Politically intriguing while also touching on love and loss, this well-wrought work should enthrall Western readers. Recommended for larger literary collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/05.]-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Lilli Abdal
Parents were murdered; grows up at an Islamic shrine; starts a religious school in Africa; runs a community association for family reunification; hopes to be reunited with her lover.

Aziz Abdulnasser
Lilli's lover; chose to stay in Africa.

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