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A family tale set in 1950s Sudan, a nation on the verge of independence from British and Egyptian rule, Leila Aboulela's autobiographical novel finds its Muslim characters caught between forces of tradition and modernity, wealth and want, fate and faith. The author's unerring imaginative grasp of the comforts and constraints of family ties—and the liberating impetuses of suffering and creativity—casts a universal glow over this carefully drawn Sudanese saga.

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.