Season of Migration to the North (New York Review Books Classics)
After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.
But what is the meaning of Mustafa’s shocking confession? Mustafa disappears without explanation, leaving the young man—whom he has asked to look after his wife—in an unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between Europe and Africa, tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement, and man and woman, from which no one will escape unaltered or unharmed.
Season of Migration to the North is a rich and sensual work of deep honesty and incandescent lyricism. In 2001 it was selected by a panel of Arab writers and critics as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century.
A literary masterwork from Sudan
By A Customer - March 28, 2000
Tayeb Salih's great novel is a compelling satirical rewrite of Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS. In Salih's version, instead of a European intellectual travelling to Africa to be corrupted by his contact with "primitive savagery," the protagonist starts out as an idealistic young man from Sudan who travels northward to Europe, where he is undone by corruption, decadence, and the mutual destructiveness of unhappy love affairs. The novel is cleverly written and well translated, with terrific insights into the relationships of southern and northern hemispheres; the colonized to their colonizers; Arabs and Europeans; and men and women. I've read a lot of Arab novels (and many more African ones); A SEASON OF MIGRATION TO THE NORTH is the best I've read to date.
A work of knife-like ironies and intelligence . . .
By Ronald Scheer "rockysquirrel" - December 8, 2006
Postcolonial and more than a little postmodern, this short novel tells a story within a story and goes through a variety of different styles of storytelling, representing a range of perspectives on being African in an Africa both bound in tradition and transformed by the influence of Europe. Born of both worlds, the North and the South, the novel calls to mind Joseph Conrad from its first words, its unnamed narrator speaking to an unseen audience of "gentlemen." And that is only the beginning of many ironies, as the novel interweaves mystery, melodrama, travelogue, bawdy humor, politics, sociology, history, topography, Faustian tale, confession, and some very racy material that comes close to being pure potboiler.
Set in Arab Sudan in the mid-20th century, the book can be read for any of several themes: the exoticism of Africa in the European imagination, the subjugation of women, the peril in the triumph of reason over compassion, the difficulty of determining truth in a... read more
Read Heart of Darkness First
By Lisa Shea "be the change you wish to see in t... - October 19, 2008
It's interesting to read reviews of this short novel. Half of the readers see it as a satirical version of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". The other half - who perhaps have never read Conrad - think it's a vain, silly (although lyrically written) tale of a sex-maniac guy who likes to seduce and abandon women. This is one of the inherent problems in a novel which is meant to reference another work. If you were to read "Bored of the Rings" (an awesome parody of Lord of the Rings) without ever reading Lord of the Rings you might think it silly. Read them side by side and you realize the brilliance at work. Not only is that true here as well, but I also do think that Season of Migration to the North stands alone as a work in its own right.
First, if you've never read "Heart of Darkness", look it up on the web and read it. It's online in its full text (it is out of copyright now) and you can read it for free. It's a short novel, just like Season, and should only take you an... read more
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