Season of Migration to the North

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New York Review of Books, 2009 - Fiction - 139 pages
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After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.

But what is the meaning of Mustafa’s shocking confession? Mustafa disappears without explanation, leaving the young man—whom he has asked to look after his wife—in an unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between Europe and Africa, tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement, and man and woman, from which no one will escape unaltered or unharmed.

Season of Migration to the North is a rich and sensual work of deep honesty and incandescent lyricism. In 2001 it was selected by a panel of Arab writers and critics as the most important Arab novel of the twentieth century.
 

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This is an incredible piece of literature that is rightfully making its way into the canon. With sweeping themes of sexuality, culture, art, colonialism, and death, it is a must read for any one who takes books seriously.

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Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
18
Section 3
38
Section 4
51
Section 5
59
Section 6
74
Section 7
87
Section 8
96
Section 9
111
Section 10
137
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About the author (2009)

Tayeb Salih (1929-2009) was born in northern Sudan in 1929 and educated at the University of Khartoum. After a brief period working as a teacher, he moved to London to work with the BBC Arabic Service. Salih later worked as director general of information in Qatar in the Arabian Gulf, and then with unesco in Paris and the Arab Gulf States. Along with Season of Migration to the North, his books in English include The Wedding of Zein (which will be published as an
NYRB Classic) and Bandarshah.

Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post and elsewhere. Her debut collection of short stories, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was published in the fall of 2005, and her first novel, Secret Son, was published in the spring of 2009. She is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside.

Denys Johnson-Davies has published more than twenty-five volumes of stories, novels, plays, and poetry translated from modern Arabic literature. He lives in Cairo, Egypt.

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