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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 yet in her third marriage, she is treated like a pet and longs for freedom.

On a road trip to the Scottish Highlands, the friends are visited by the Hoopoe, 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, author of the Guardian Fiction Prize winner SWEET DESSERTS, and MIMI
BIRD SUMMONS is a Scottish-Arabic Canterbury Tales, a quest full of stories and surprises: a challenging storyteller's tour de force, uniting two radically different cultures with a handshake and a kiss.
BIRD SUMMONS is the story of three Arab women on a quest in the Scottish Highlands and how their experience challenges and reveals them layer by layer. It is engaging and funny and rich in narrative suspense
Abdulrazak Gurnah, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of PARADISE and GRAVEL HEART
A wonderful book. I loved the beauty of its language and the subtle interweaving of myth with the spiritual and physical journeys of the women. I found it fascinating, powerful and profound
Anne Donovan, author of BUDDHA DA
BIRD SUMMONS is a heady blend of social realism, magic, Middle Eastern folktale and Celtic myth. Above all it is the story of three women on a journey not only to the Highlands but also into themselves, as they confront their hopes, fears and deepest secrets. Leila Aboulela's is a unique and refreshing voice in contemporary Scottish fiction
Leila Aboulela is a constant inspiration to me. Her acute observations, magical realism and fine, flowing prose about women and worlds I know well but had never seen drawn in all their vivid complexity on the page before, are what make me return to her work again and again.
Sabrina Mahfouz, editor of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write
An intensely felt novel about an extraordinary journey that peels open one unexpected world after another
Romesh Gunesekera, author of Booker Prize-shortlisted REEF
Aboulela is doing much the same thing as Jane Austen did when she brought her heroines to the point of examining their feelings honestly and so realising who they should marry and on what terms. Aboulela does this very well, and always (which is just as important) interestingly ... a very good novel
Tender, but unsentimental . . . rooted in everyday experience without forsaking the spiritual, told in effortlessly enjoyable style'
Anthony Cummins, DAILY MAIL
She's so good with women's interiority, and Muslim women's subjectivity ... she gets beyond any cliché or type of the Muslim women
Arifa Akbar, BBC Radio 4, Front Row
Aboulela's prose is restrained but warm. There is a calm amusement in her tone when the women mock the overly conservative men in their lives . . .For western readers, Aboulela offers rare and precious insight into the minds of women who believe that husbands should be obeyed - Moni's dogged devotion to the care of her disabled son, which is tenderly described early in the novel, is viewed by her friends as a betrayal of her marriage vows
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, GUARDIAN