Tayeb Salih


Sudan's illustrious literary figure Writing in Arabic with great success, Tayeb Salih is well known for his Mawsim al hijra ila al shimal (Season of Migration to the North, 1966) showing perceptive assessment of the relationship between East and West, and complex weaving of personal and political lives. Season of Migration to the North, translated into more than 30 languages, is about one man's journey from Sudan to England, for study, and his return seven years later to find that everything and everyone, including him, has changed. To make matters worse, someone else in his village has undertaken the same voyage before him - with tragic consequences. The depiction of village life in northern Sudan formed the centrepiece of most of Tayeb's fictions. In 2001, Arab literary Academy, at Damascus declared Mawsim al hijra ila shimal the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century. Tayeb remained abroad for most of his life; from joining BBC Arabic Service and becoming head of drama followed by a period with the Ministry of information in Qatar before joining Unesco in Paris. Tayeb Salih was born in Karmakol, near Al Debba on the bank of the Nile and was educated in Khartoum. In 1952 he travelled to London as part of the first generation of Sudanese educated in Britain in preparation for independence, which came in 1956. Courteous and respectful of tradition, yet not bound to it, Tayeb came to represent what is best about cross-cultural encounters. He passed away in London.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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