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Season of Migration to the North (New York Review Books Classics)

Customer Reviews:

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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