The Info List - Season Of Migration To The North

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Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
(Arabic: موسم الهجرة إلى الشمال‎ Mawsim al-Hiǧra ilā ash-Shamāl) is a classic post-colonial Sudanese novel by the novelist Tayeb Salih. Originally published in Arabic
in 1966, it has since been translated into more than twenty languages.[1] Salih was fluent in both English and Arabic, but chose to pen this novel in Arabic.[2] The English translation was published in 1969 as part of the influential Heinemann African Writers Series. The novel is a counter narrative to Heart of Darkness. It was described by Edward Said
Edward Said
as one of the six great novels in Arabic literature.[3] In 2001 it was selected by a panel of Arab writers and critics as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century.[4]


1 Historical context 2 Summary 3 Relation to other texts 4 Characters 5 Controversy 6 Theater 7 Editions in print 8 Notes 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links

Historical context[edit] In January 1899, a condominium, or joint-authority, was established to rule over Sudan
by Britain and Egypt.[5] Sudan
gained independence in 1956, but was then engulfed in two prolonged civil wars for much of the remainder of the 20th century.[6] This novel is set in the 1960s, a significant and tumultuous time in Sudan's history. Summary[edit] The unnamed narrator has returned to his native village in the Sudan after seven years in England
furthering his education. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country.[4] On his arrival home, the Narrator encounters a new villager named Mustafa Sa'eed who exhibits none of the adulation for his achievements that most others do, and he displays an antagonistically aloof nature. Mustafa betrays his past one drunken evening by wistfully reciting poetry in fluent English, leaving the narrator resolute to discover the stranger's identity. The Narrator later asks Mustafa about his past, and Mustafa tells the Narrator much of his story, often saying "I am no Othello, Othello was a lie," as well as "I am a lie." The Narrator becomes fascinated by Mustafa, and learns that Mustafa was also a precocious student educated in the West but that he held a violent, hateful and complex relationship with his western identity and acquaintances. The story of Mustafa's troubled past in Europe, and in particular his love affairs with British women, form the center of the novel. Mustafa attracts the women by appealing to their Orientalist fantasies. All of the relationships end in tragedy. Three of the women commit suicide and the fourth, Mustafa's wife, is murdered by him. He stands trial for the murder and serves time in an English jail. In the dramatic present, Mustafa drowns in the Nile, and his widow, Hosna, is pressured to remarry. She refuses, because she does not want to marry after her husband. She tries to appeal to the Narrator, who was appointed the guardian of her sons in Mustafa's will. The Narrator does try to foil the marriage before it can take place, but he spends most of his time in Khartoum and therefore cannot exert much influence on the village. Hosna is married to Wad Rayyes against her will, and when he attempts to forcefully consummate the marriage, she kills him first and then proceeds to kill herself. Both are then buried without a funeral. The stories of Mustafa's past life in England, and the repercussions on the village around him, take their toll on the narrator, who is driven to the very edge of sanity. In the final chapter, the Narrator is floating in the Nile, precariously between life and death, and resolves to rid himself of Mustafa's lingering presence, and to stand as an influential individual in his own right. In the middle of the Nile, he yells, "Help! Help!" The novel ends upon that cry and it is unclear whether his decision is too late, whether it is the right one, and whether he, others, and the country itself will receive the help needed.[7] Relation to other texts[edit] The novel can be related in many ways to the seminal works of Frantz Fanon, specifically Black Skin, White Masks. Fanon discusses the politics of desire between black men and white women, as Salih also explores extensively in the relationships of Mustafa Sa'eed. The novel has also been compared in many ways to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.[8] Both novels explore cultural hybridity, cross-colonial experiences, and Orientalism. The novel is also set in the same village, Wad Hamid, as many of Salih's other works, including The Wedding of Zein, Bandarshah, and others. Many of the novel's character, such as Mahjoub and the Narrator, recur in these other works as well. Ami Elad-Boulaski writes that Salih's depiction of Wad Hamid is more fully realized because a reader can track the development of characters throughout multiple novels and short stories.[9] Characters[edit]

Mustafa Sa'eed The Narrator* Jean Morris Sheila Greenwood Ann Hammond Mahjoub Bint Mahmoud (Hosna) Bint Majzoub The Narrator's Wife The Narrator's Father Hajj Ahmed (The Narrator's Grandfather) The Narrator's Mother Wad Rayyes Isabella Seymour Mrs. Robinson Mr. Robinson

*The Narrator is once mistakenly referred to as "Effendi"; however, the word Effendi merely denotes respect for another. The narrator's actual name is never given in the novel. However, in another of Salih's Wad Hamid stories, the Narrator's name is revealed to be Meheimid, a diminutive version of Muhammad. Controversy[edit] The novel was banned in the author's native Sudan
for a period of time starting in 1989 because its graphic sexual imagery offended the Islamic government. Today the novel is readily available in Sudan.[2] Theater[edit]

Season of Migration to the North, adapted and directed by Ouriel Zohar, starring Mohammed Bakri. Bakri won the award for best actor in the 1993 Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre.

Editions in print[edit]

ISBN 0-435-90630-5 Season of Migration to the North, 1969 Heinemann ISBN 0-935576-29-0 Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
(hardcover), 1989 M. Kesend Pub. Ltd. ISBN 0-435-90066-8 Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
(paperback), 1970 Heinemann ISBN 0-89410-199-4 Season of Migration to the North: A novel (paperback reprint), 1980 Lynne Rienner Publishers ISBN 0-14-118720-4 Season of Migration to the North, 2003 Penguin Classics Series


^ Johnson-Davies, Memories In Translation: A Life Between The Lines Of Arabic
Literature, p 85 ^ a b GradeSaver. " Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
Study Guide". www.gradesaver.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.  ^ Mahjoub, Jamal (2009-02-19). "Tayeb Salih". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-11-30.  ^ a b " Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
(New York Review Books Classics)". Rifflebooks.com. Retrieved 2016-04-08.  ^ " Sudan
– THE ANGLO-EGYPTIAN CONDOMINIUM, 1899–1955". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 2016-04-08.  ^ "The World Factbook". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-08.  ^ Harss, Marina. " Season of Migration to the North
Season of Migration to the North
– Words Without Borders". Words Without Borders. Retrieved 2016-04-08.  ^ Shaheen, Mohammad. " Tayeb Salih
Tayeb Salih
and Conrad", Comparative Literature Studies 22.1 (1985): 156–71. Jstor. Web. 1 December 2010. ^ Elad-Bouskila, Ami (1998). "Shaping the Cast of Characters: The Case of Al-Tayyib Salih". Journal of Arabic
Literature. 29.2: 59–84. 


Johnson-Davies, Denys, Memories In Translation: A Life Between The Lines Of Arabic
Literature, American University in Cairo Press, 2006, ISBN 9774249380.

Further reading[edit]

The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih

External links[edit]

Review by Marina Harss at Words Without Borders Essay by Mike Velez

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