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Season of Migration to the North

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Season of Migration to the North

His novel Season of Migration to the North shot Tayeb Saleh quickly to popularity. It first published in Beirut in 1966. In 2001, the book was declared "the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century" by the Arab Literary Academy. His works have been translated from Arabic into more than 30 languages. The BBC has listed it as one of the most influential books on Africa in the twentieth century. . The novel is also listed as required reading and taught as part of courses at many universities

Ironically, the novel, Seasons of Migration to the North, was banned in Saleh's native Sudan for a few years despite the fact that it won him prominence and fame worldwide.

Plot Summary

The unknown narrator has come back to his native village in Sudan after spending seven years in England to continue his education.

Coming back, a new villager drew his attention named Mustafa Said who doesn't show the adulation for his achievements that most others do, and has aloof nature. The villager reveals his past one drunken evening by wistfully reciting poetry in fluent English, leaving the narrator resolute to discover the stranger's identity. As it turns out Mustafa was also a student educated in the west but at the same time harbors a violently hateful and complex relationship with his western identity. The story of Mustafa's troubled past in Europe and in particular his love affair with a British woman, forms the center of the novel. What the narrator then discovers about the stranger, Mustafa Said, awakens in him great curiosity, despair and anger. The stories of Mustafa's past life in England, and the repercussions on the village around him, take a toll on the narrator, who is driven to the very edge of sanity. It is only finally, floating in the river Nile, precariously between life and death, that the narrator makes the conscious choice to rid himself of Mustafa's lingering presence, and to stand as an influential individual in his own right.

The novel has also been related in many senses to Heart of Darkness by author Joseph Conrad.Both novels explore cultural hybridity, cross-colonial experiences, and orientalism.

The relationship between West & East in the novel

One of the major themes of the book is the clash between Occidental and Oriental cultures ( EAST & WEST). This is also referred to as North and South throughout the book. Both Mustafa and the narrator came from small Sudanese villages and were educated in England. Mustafa accepted and tried to become a part of the Western culture by running around with women. Many of the women around him committed suicide because of the lies he told them and because of the empty promises he made. He married one, Jean Morris, and admitted to killing her. He ends up returning to the Sudan and settling in a small village and marrying a local woman and living according to the village customs and traditions. The narrator did not accept Western life and was waiting for the minute

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