"Gibb’s grave and graceful third novel...does a timely job of reminding readers of the peaceful, centering power of Islam.
…a story that pierces the heart…Empathy drifts up from the pages of this novel like the fumes of incense thrown on coals in a Muslim ceremonial act. Gibb, exercising delicacy and restraint, immerses herself fully in the experience of the dispossessed…This is a lovely and humane book that also, discreetly, performs significant services, opening up to view distant or closed worlds…"
-The Miami Herald
"Immensely appealing…[with] lyrical flourishes Gibb can truly transport her reader to a place they might never experience in the flesh…beautiful description that uncannily captures the earthy rightness of belonging…"
"A timely exploration…sensitively written and expertly executed…[Gibb’s] gifted use of intoxicating sensual detail vivifies the contemporary issues. This novel lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned."
-Time Out (London)
"This is a profound novel, exploring themes of female circumcision, politics, war, tribalism, yet it is also an exquisite homage to Islam. Some of the most beautiful passages are about Lily's faith. Islam is her guiding force, as she seeks to discover the true meaning of jihad, "The holy war we have within ourselves ... Our internal struggle for purity". Gibb's astonishing use of sensory detail is vibrant and palpable... There is nothing mundane about this very accomplished novel."
"Riveting…Indeed, Lilly's quest alone makes Gibb's novel remarkably compelling. But even more impressive is its affecting depiction of the pain and loneliness of exile."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A wonderful feat of imagination and empathy. I had to suppress bitter feelings of literary envy, even as I couldn't stop devouring it."
-Louis de Bernieres, author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin
"Gibb can truly transport her reader to a place they might never experience in the flesh…uncannily captures the earthy rightness of belonging through the eyes of a character who never knew its pleasure for herself."
"Gibb skilfully weaves two distinct narratives around her central character...There is heartbreak and humour in equal measure...As much as it is a paean to Ethiopia, Sweetness in the Belly is ultimately a tale of universal remembrance and forgetting, or forgiveness, of losing and then finding a home."
-Scotland on Sunday
"With sure-handed, urgent prose, Gibb chronicles the remarkable spiritual and geographical journey of a white British Muslim woman ... The novel fluently speaks the "languages of religion and exile," depicting both the multifaceted heartbreak of those lucky enough to escape violent regime changes and the beauty of unlikely bonds created by the modern multicultural world."
"A compellingly told story of a young white Muslim woman, whose nomadic parents left her with a legacy of intense and varied cultural bonds. Addressing the pain of immigration, the beauty of sharing unfamiliar customs and the horror of seeing one's home country in tatters, Gibb is unerringly direct"
-Good Housekeeping (UK)
"Sweetness in the Belly" is fun and easy to read above all, it is a book that depicts in a very powerful way the Ethiopian condition, a condition of love, tolerance, endurance, optimism and triumph... this writer is grateful for bringing the human-condition in Ethiopian into the fore."
"Sweetness In The Belly is remarkable for its geographic, thematic and historic amplitude and breadth, depicting the multi-cultural and modern world. Gibb, singled out as one of the Orange Futures writers, is certainly one to watch."
-The Birmingham Post
"A sophisticated, ambitious and deeply affecting novel which is devastatingly relevant to our contemporary world."
-Giller Prize jury
"This compelling first-person account…offers scenes of both harrowing limbo and joyful uplift. The novel subtly engages topical questions of both politics and faith, but ultimately it is the author’s sustained psychological acuity and uncanny empathy in detailing Lilly’s life lessons that lend this book its vital depth, charm and staying power."
-Trillium Prize jury
"Camilla Gibb has created a novel that is culturally sensitive, consummately researched and deeply compassionate. …Her writing is fluid, visceral, vivid and even, never resorting to sensationalism or sentimentality. Richly imagined, full of sensuous detail and arresting imagery"
-Literary Review of Canada
"Camilla Gibb's ambitious third novel is a study in the complexities of context, a drama playing on concentric stages. …Sweetness in the Belly is vivid and rich with interesting detail, politically relevant and eminently readable."
-The Globe and Mail
"This is a rarity, a novel that transforms expectations. A hugely ambitious work executed with deceptive ease, it is an unbelievably odd tale, yet utterly convincing, able to transport us behind closed borders and back again. … a marvellous sight to behold."
-The Gazette (Montreal )
"Camilla Gibb's integration of history and fiction in Sweetness in the Belly is superb. …Gibb's crowning achievement is a knack for creating believable historical characters. Characters whose credibility is anchored by the convincing commonplace of their lives."
-Winnipeg Free Press
"Sweetness In The Belly is a deeply imagined immersion into the lives of people for whom war, poverty, marginalization and exile are the commonplace trials. Gibb's understanding of this world seems almost uncanny but it is her compassion for her characters that impressed me the most. Here is a novel that challenges and disturbs as it enlightens and uplifts. A really exceptional achievement."
-Barbara Gowdy, the author of The Romantic