- Series: New York Review Books Classics
- Paperback: 139 pages
- Publisher: NYRB Classics; New York Review Books Classics edition (April 14, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590173023
- ISBN-13: 978-1590173022
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Season of Migration to the North (New York Review Books Classics) New York Review Books Classics Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
One of the classic themes followed in this complex novel, translated from the Arabic, is cultural dissonance between East and West, particularly the experience of a returned native. The narrator returns from his studies in England to his remote little village in Sudan, to begin his career as an educator. There he encounters Mustafa, a fascinating man of mystery, who also has studied at Oxford. As their relationship builds on this commonality, Mustafa reveals his past. A series of compulsive liaisons with English women who were similarly infatuated with the "Black Englishman," as he was nicknamed, have ended in disaster. Charged with the passion killing of his last paramour, Mustafa was acquitted by the English courts. As he unravels his complicated, gory and erotic story, Mustafa charges the listener with the custody of his present life. When Mustafa disappears, apparently drowned in the Nile and perhaps a suicide, another door in his secretive life opens to include his wife and children. Emerging from a constantly evolving narrative, in a trance-like telling, is the clash between an assumed worldly sophistication and enduring, dark, elemental forces. An arresting work by a major Arab novelist who mines the rich lode of African experience with the Western world.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This depthless, elusive classic …explores not just the corrosive psychological colonisation observed by Frantz Fanon, but a more complex two-way orientalism, in which the charms of western thought, embodied in its poetry and liberal ideals, prove irresistible, even as the novel’s Sudanese narrators understand these as the tempting fruit of a poisoned tree.” —Greg Jackson, The Guardian
"Season of Migration to the North is an engaging and complicated novel, by turns combative and wistful, about two men who leave Sudan to study in England and afterward belong in neither place." --Maude Newton, NPR.com
"Season of Migration to the North is remarkably compact, really a novella rather than a novel. But woven into the brief text is a dense tracery of allusions to Arabic and European fiction, Islamic history, Shakespeare, Freud, and classical Arabic poetry—a corpus that haunts all his writing. Salih, who died this past February in London, packed an entire library into this slim masterpiece. It is literature to the second degree. And yet it is anything but labored. Rather, it is alive with drama and incident: crimes of passion, sadomasochism, suicide. It is a novel of ideas wrapped in the veils of romance." --Harper's Magazine
"This is the one novel that everyone insisted I took with me. Set in a Sudanese village by the Nile, it is a brilliant exploration of African encounters with the West, and the corrupting power of colonialism. The narrator is a man returned to his native village, after university in England, and he gradually unpicks the horrifying story of a newcomer he finds in his old home. This man had been a brilliant Sudanese student and had also gone to England with terrible consequences. I never got this book out to read without someone coming up to tell me how brilliant it was." --Mary Beard
“Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih, is an eloquent and restrained portrait of one man’s exile. It is a rare narrative in that it charts a life divided between England and Sudan. Without a doubt it is one of the finest Arabic novels of the 20th century, and Denys Johnson-Davies' translation…does the original justice.” –Hisham Matar
"Emerging from a constantly evolving narrative, in a trance-like telling, is the clash between an assumed worldly sophistication and enduring, dark, elemental forces. An arresting work by a major Arab novelist who mines the rich lode of African experience with the Western world. An arresting work by a major Arab novelist who mines the rich lode of African experience with the Western world." –Publishers Weekly
"A beautifully constructed novel by an author whose reputation in Arabic is deservedly vast." –London Tribune
"It is certainly time that [Salih] be better known in America." –The Christian Science Monitor
“An Arabian Nights in reverse, enclosing a pithy moral about international misconceptions and delusions...Powerfully and poetically written and splendidly translated by Denys Johnson-Davies.” –The Observer (London)
“Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, a Sudanese novelist, and one of the most important Arabic-language novelists. It's the story of a man who has studied abroad and returned to life in Sudan–about the sort of cultural conflict and internal conflict from colonization. It's a very short novel and a number of people had recommended it to me based on what I had written. The subject matter is interesting: the story of this crisis of someone returning from life in the West." –The Christian Science Monitor
"This book was given to me some time ago by a librarian who had to replace her fiction shelves with an information centre. I was completely captivated by the story...the writing is extraordinarily hypnotic. First published in Arabic in 1966, and in English in 1969 by Heinemann's African Writers Series, it was much acclaimed but did not gain as wide a readership in English as it deserved." –The Guardian
"Inevitably, Aboulela has been compared to Tayeb Salih, whose brutal novel Season of Migration to the North is considered a classic among postcolonial texts and covers the same geographical distance as Minaret (Salih's fiction has been widely translated from Arabic; Aboulela writes in English.)" –The Daily Star (Beirut)
"The prose, translated from Arabic, has a grave beauty. It's the story of a man who returns to his native Sudan after being educated in England, then encounters the first Sudanese to get an English education. The near-formal elegance in the writing contrasts with the sly anti-colonial world view of the book, and this makes it even more interesting." –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple Hibiscus
"In this extraordinary 1966 novel, a young man returns to his Sudanese village after studying abroad...Salih's own distinguished career with Unesco only sharpens this nightmare of a cultural singularity that twists into a lie. His sweet foreword remarks that he never made much money from fiction, so this reissue is doubly welcome." –The Guardian
"The Sudanese classic novel Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih's inversion of Conrad's journey into Africa." –The Guardian
"Though Salih's work is deeply rooted in local culture, Johnson-Davies says it has a universal appeal: ‘He writes in the main about simple peasant people living in a village on the Nile, but they are individuals with very much the same preoccupations as anyone else. I recollect a scene where several of the characters boast about the merits of the donkeys they are riding, as though one was driving a Porsche, another a Maserati, and so on!’” –The New Yorker
"The meeting of the East and the West as a narrative of romance is not new territory: E.M. Forster, and lesser lights like M.M. Kaye and Paul Scott, have also presented the colonial encounter as a romance, at times failed, at other times forced. More important, writers from the other side of the colonial divide have come to prominence in recent decades through their own, perhaps more contested, portrayals. Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North was an early classic of this genre." –The Nation
"Tayib Salih's Season of Migration to the North is a clever inversion of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: for in this case an Arab worker leaves his people and goes to Europe in search of employment, finding in the process that he has indeed entered his own heart of darkness." –The Irish Times
"This story might seem like a village tragedy from the Sudan, the homeland of the writer Tayeb Salih, but its resonances carry far beyond the setting. Season of Migration to the North is a brilliant miniature of the plight of Arabs and Africans who find themselves no longer sustained by their past and not yet incorporated into a viable future. Swift and astonishing in its prose, this novel is more instructive than any number of academic books." –The New York Times
“A modern Arabic classic.” –Reuters
“Denys Johnson-Davies...the leading Arabic-English translator of our time.” –Edward Said, The Independent
“Davies has done more than anybody to translate modern Arabic fiction into English and promote it.” –Nagib Mahfouz
Top customer reviews
Of all the literature written by non-English speaking writers about the European colonial experience in Asia, Africa, and the Americas,, Tayeb Saleh's novel "Season of Migration to the North" is perhaps the most compelling and captivating narrative of all. If anything, the late Tayeb Saleh should have been awarded the Nobel Prize for this magnificent literary work which embodies the African as well as Arab-Muslim colonial experience in its entirety. No graduate and/or undergraduate course on comparative literature can be complete without reading and analyzing this masterpiece of the late Tayeb Saleh.
Like Joseph Conrad, Tayeb Salih's prose is dense and vivid, occasionally bordering on overkill but skillfully straddling the line between purple and poetic. (There is also in "Season" a lot of imagery associated with the Nile River.) Both authors also refuse to exalt one side and reproach the other in the narrative of colonialization. Whereas Conrad portrayed "civilization" (read: Europe) as a mere covering for "gratified and monstrous passions" that find release in distant lands among dark and mysterious foreigners, Salih takes a more expansive approach to the subjects of society and humanity. Europeans are just like us, the narrator explains to his friends and family, "just like us they are born and die, and in the journey from the cradle to the grave they dream dreams some of which come true and some of which are frustrated. . ." "Season of Migration to the North," despite its bleak tone, is a very humanistic book.
Salih's humanist outlook further demands that Sudan also be held accountable for its own approach to gender and oppression. Though popularly seen as a post-colonial narrative, "Season" also takes a hard look at the subjugation of Sudanese women in a fiercely patriarchal society. Beyond Mustafa's own misogyny (he treats white women like disposable playthings, although, in a brilliant instance of intersectionality, they also treat him as an exotic commodity) and its final disastrous outcome, another defining moment in "Season" is the sudden tragedy that occurs when an independent widow is forced by her father and brothers to marry an older man she hates. Added to that is the blasé treatment is female genital mutilation, a human rights violation still prevalent today, and a picture emerges of a country with its own anxieties and own systems of oppression. Tayeb Salih does not condemn either English or Sudanese culture. But he does make it clear that the relationships between both individual humans and the societies they belong to are deeply complex subjects with many shades of gray.
"Season of Migration to the North" is an excellent, eloquent study of -isms: post-colonialism, racism, and sexism. But it is hardly the didactic protest novel it probably could have been in less capable hands. Tayeb Salih takes real humans and demands that the reader examine their thoughts and behavior and the cultural context in which their actions take place. "Season of Migration" is thought-provoking read and comes highly recommended.
The narrative is structured similarly to certain taled in the "Nights," moving smoothly between the main narrator and the protagonist's POV. Dealing with some of the same themes as "Things Fall Apart," "Season" is at once darker and more uplifting than the former.
This is one that I will read over again.
It is a pity that this book is not as talked about as other books such as, say "Things fall apart".