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Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb…
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Season of Migration to the North (1966)

by Tayeb Salih

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I read about this book and had to track it down through interlibrary loan. I had high hopes; at times I wasn't disappointed, but at the end, I was. Actually the story of two men both born in the Sudan. The unnamed narrator returns to his home village after studying in Europe; he finds his loving grandfather, his friends, and a welcoming from the family. He also meets a strange man called Mustafa Sa'eed, who was appeared some years before, settled down and married a woman in the village. Mustafa is a mysterious character but slowly the narrator earns his confidence and Mustafa tells his story. The book alternates then between the present and Mustafa's story.
Mustafa was a sort of boy wonder in the Sudan and the first to obtain a scholarship to study in Europe after the independence of the Sudan. He is brilliant and achieves fame as a teacher. He is also a misogynist who white English women seem abnormally attracted to. He has several torrid affairs in which the women turn him into a sort of "black African god." Several commit suicide. He pursues and marries a woman named Jean Morris. That relationship is different, but he winds up murdering her; he stands trial, is imprisoned, and eventually returns to the Sudan to this unnamed village.

There a parts of the book that are beautifully written especially a scene in which there is an impromptu party in the desert at night attended by travelers, truck drivers, and local bedouins. However, there are other parts that are just not at all clear and just downright weird (for me a white woman without any experience with the Arab world). Yet, I believe I appreciate the overall focus of the book. Life is what it is, it will go on with or without us, with or without introspection. The East is different from the West; the West is different from the East; neither are better, neither are worse. Terrible things have happened, they cannot be undone. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 31, 2018 |
I enjoyed the first half of this book quite a lot. Two men, of different generations, living in the same Sudanese town. Each has traveled and spent time in England for education and work. Each has returned to Sudan--the elder came to this town, bought a farm, married, has children. The younger has returned to his hometown and is as yet unmarried. They returned for different reasons.

The second half begins to get odd, the last 30 pages or so are weird and weirder. I am sure this is somehow a discussion of the colonized sending their best and brightest to the colonizer for education and to work with them. And never quite fitting in or being appreciated. I am unclear, though, what the womanizing by Mustafa is really supposed to mean. How does Hosna's, his widow's, fate fit into this? Did he marry her because she was independent and strong, more like the English women he liked? And thus he was her perfect match, and she could not tolerate a more-typical Sudanese match? Can the narrator avoid the same fate as that of Mustafa? He appears to chose to.

The author, born in Sudan, lived most of his life in Europe as well, so perhaps related more to Mustafa and the narrator than to those who did not leave their town and opted not to pursue additional education. Perhaps this book is really about how he felt when returning home? So many questions! ( )
  Dreesie | Aug 9, 2018 |
I enjoyed this book, but it kept pulling me toward a polemical reading. I'm not sure if that's what the author intended or not. I kept thinking how id like to teach this as a companion to HEART OF DARKNESS. It lends itself well to deconstruction, as an antithesis to HOD. It would also be great with THINGS FALL APART. I would love to do something with Bakhtin and the carnivalesque. This book has probably been used and abused as much as the characters in it. It definitely demands another reading and a much wider audience. It also definitely deserves a place in any World Lit class. ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
eason of Migration to the North (1966) is not the first book I have read from Sudan, but it is unquestionably the most famous one. It is featured in some editions of 1001 Books; it was named as the most important Arabic novel of the 20th Century by the Arab Literary Academy in 2001; and its author Tayeb Salih (1929-2009) was considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize. Given a second life in 2009 when Season of Migration to the North was reissued for the influential NYRB Classics series, the novel was first brought to my attention by enticing reviews at Reading Matters, and Intermittences of the Mind, and then it was included in Radio National’s (now defunct) Africa Reading Club. And although it is a difficult book to make sense of, it is well worth reading for those of us who would like to understand more about the culture of the growing Sudanese community in Australia.
When I say that it is a difficult book ‘to make sense of’, I don’t mean that it’s hard to understand what’s happens in the novel. The plot is reasonably straightforward: in the 1960s, in an unsettled period in his home country of Sudan, an unnamed narrator returns home to his village. He has been studying literature in the UK, and he is hoping to make a difference in his newly independent homeland. He expects to find everything much the same in this small village where everyone knows everyone else, and spends his first days at home revisiting the places of his youth, catching up with relations and renewing old friendships. But he soon discovers a recent arrival to the village, an enigmatic stranger called Mustafa Sa’eed, and to his astonishment one day this man starts reciting English war poetry in a perfect English accent. It turns out that he had studied abroad too.
Eventually, in a story within the story, Mustafa comes clean with the dirty secrets of his hidden past. In England he had become a notable economist, destined to help his country emerge into nationhood, but – resentful of the way he was constantly exoticised by women – he pandered to their Oriental fantasies, with disastrous results. Reinforcing the stereotype of the ‘Dangerous Black Man’ he murders one of these women, but he is given only a light sentence in a bizarre trial reminiscent of the trial of Meersault in Camus’ The Outsider. He is not really on trial for what he has done, he is on trial for being disassociated from the culture in which he finds himself, and for his lack of emotion.
No sooner has all this been revealed than Sa’eed abruptly disappears, leaving the narrator confused and angry, because – in a breach of village traditions – Sa’eed has bequeathed responsibility for his wife and two sons to him, rather than to the wife’s father and brothers. This infantilising treatment of a woman is one of many moments in this novel to make a feminist bristle…
There is also a much quoted episode where the men of the village gather together to drink and gossip and boast about their conquests. Women know that many men do this behind our backs but it is always unpleasant to come across it in fiction, because it makes it harder to ignore the fact that this smutty objectification of women happens in real life (and perhaps even among the apparently nice men that we know or have to work with). But this behaviour is not hidden in the novel. It is overt: there is even a token woman present. There is an obvious temptation to interpret this and other misogynistic sequences as indicative of the way a different culture openly treats women with contempt, but the issue os not addressed in the otherwise excellent introduction by Leila Lalami. (Kim calls it out in her review, noting that the line between sexual violence and eroticism does feel blurred in places, and the book, unsurprisingly, has been condemned in the past for being pornographic).
It was not until I listened to the discussion at Radio National that I began to grasp the postcolonial purpose of the misogyny...
To see the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/01/10/season-of-migration-to-the-north-by-tayeb-salih-translated-by-denys-johnson-davies-bookreview/ ( )
1 vote anzlitlovers | Jan 10, 2018 |
I really enjoyed Tayeb Salih's noel "Season of Migration to the North." Salih is a wonderful writer -- he paints incredible word pictures. In addition, as the story progressed, it never went where I expected-- every twist and turn was a delight.

Our narrator tells the story of Mustafa Sa'eed, a brilliant Sudanese student who heads to Europe and repays the conquest of Africa with his own conquest of women -- in a line that will always stick with me, he says he is going to "liberate Africa with my penis." The encounters end disasterously for the women and our narrator has a hard time reconciling the mild mannered farmer he knew with the Sa'eed of the past.

I really enjoyed the story as it unfolded. ( )
  amerynth | May 24, 2017 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tayeb Salihprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bishop, Claire HuchetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dundy, ElaineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson-Davies, DenysTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kahle, SigridAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karachouli, ReginaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lailami, LailaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leggio, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0435900668, Paperback)

A beautifully constructed novel set in the Sudan.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"When a young man returns to his village in the Sudan after many years studying in Europe, he finds that among the familiar faces there is now a stranger - the enigmatic Mustafa Sa'eed. As the two become friends, Mustafa tells the younger man the disturbing story of his own life in London after the First World War. Lionized by society and desired by women as an exotic novelty, Mustafa was driven to take brutal revenge on the decadent West and was, in turn, destroyed by it. Now the terrible legacy of his actions has come to haunt the small village at the bend of the Nile."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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