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Season of Migration to the North

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  18,243 ratings  ·  2,341 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 1st 1970 by Heinemann (first published 1966)
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Mahmood Alamri أخي الكريم كلامك غاية في الدقة في أعتقادي كل من نقد"الجنس " في هذه الرواية شخص لم يقرا الكثر من الادب العالمي والعربي القديم أو المعاصر أو بمعنى أخص…more أخي الكريم كلامك غاية في الدقة في أعتقادي كل من نقد"الجنس " في هذه الرواية شخص لم يقرا الكثر من الادب العالمي والعربي القديم أو المعاصر أو بمعنى أخص لم يستوعبو الا الجنس في ما قرأوه. كثير من الروايات العالمية بها الكثير من هذه الالفاظ الا أن الناس لا تعير لهذه الالفاظ أي بال بل تركز على الموضوع الرئيسي ككل. الرواية تصور بعض العلاقات "لا تمجدها" فقط تصور أختلاف الشخص العربي في بلده وفي البلاد الغربية(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Abdulrahman Aldeek فعلا....رجاء راسلوني للاجابة على تساؤلاتكم بخصوص هذه الرواية

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I liked the book quite a lot. It's beautifully-written. But that is despite the misogynistic viewpoint that was probably true in the life of the village and the people in the countryside of Sudan. I disliked how that was amped up with racism when it came to the 'Northern' women. I don't want books to be written from a pc point of view but when half the world's worth is judged by looks, sexuality and their usefulness to men it doesn't enhance my enjoyment of it. Do African Americans like reading ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The narrator of the novel is a young man returning from studies in the North (Europe) to his village near the Nile in Sudan. He periodically visits the village of his childhood, while working in Khartoum. The village did not change much since his departure, his family and his tribe are still there, the independence of Sudan and its modernization is slow to reach those parts although some progress was visible. When he first come back he discovers a new face, that of Mustafa Sa’eed, a stranger who ...more
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
A while ago I was in heated conversation with a man, a British man, upon the subject of immigration and asylum, and at the end of this conversation he said something like ‘obviously coming here is better for you lot.’ It became clear to me at that point that he was under the impression that I wasn’t English. It is better for me and my kind? Better in what way, sir? ‘Nicer, not like where you came from.’ Putting aside the insignificant detail that I am actually English, the suggestion was that ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
موسم الهجرة الی الشمال = Mawsim al-Hijrah ilâ al-Shamâl = Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih
Season of Migration to the North is a classic post-colonial Arabic novel by the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih. In 1966, Salih published his novel, the one for which he is best known. It was first published in the Beirut journal Hiwâr. The main concern of the novel is with the impact of British colonialism and European modernity on rural African societies in general and Sudanese culture and
Tracey Duncan
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
heart of darkness backwards. one of my favorite books ever. just try doing better than "i want to liberate africa with my penis". just try.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 books readers and those who like a side order of intrigue
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: vasha7 and joselito
A powerful and unusual contrast of carnality and pastoralism. Not two key themes you might often find in your common or garden novel but this book is neither common nor domestic. A powerful description of the life and death of the mysterious Mustafa Sa'eed who despite being an outsider to the village he currently inhabits and seemingly little known in the area, has wielded a great and mysterious skill... women kill themselves for the love of him.

Mustafa Sa'eed journeyed north to England as a
Adam Dalva
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Salih is an astonishing prose stylist (it's comforting to know that he worked closely with the translator), and his ability is on full display here, using a mix of mediums that tell a seemingly classic story in a modern way. The plot occurs obliquely - wonderful to have a passive lead and an incredibly active, handsome subject - and the retold stories of Mustafa's sexual escapades in London are, as many have pointed out, a conscious subversion of Othello and HEART OF DARKNESS. But I'm more ...more
Nidhi Singh
I listened intently to the wind: that indeed was a sound well known to me, a sound which in our village possessed a merry whispering – the sound of wind passing through palm trees is different from when it passes through fields of corn. I heard the cooing of the turtle-dove, and I looked through the window at the palm tree standing in the courtyard of our house and I knew all was still well with life. I looked at its strong straight trunk, at its roots that strike down into the ground, at the
Huda Aweys
( My review, in English first, then in Arabic-مراجعة بالانجليزية تليها اخرى بالعربية )
.. railway originally established to transport troops, and have established schools to teach us how to say 'yes' in their own language ..

Mustafa in the novel represents intellectual alienation that we have experienced all of us, which uprooted us from our roots and made us cadaver which jostling it identities and cultures .. like Mustafa in his loneliness when Masonic and the Communist jostling him, ..
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is one of comparisons: colonial vs post-colonial; youth vs age; male vs female; agrarian vs the culture of the city; but it is also a lyrical story of people living by the Nile as their forefathers had for centuries. So many influences at play here.

Mustafa Sa'eed used the education provided by the British to leave for England and conquer--he wrote books, taught the British young, captivated British women, but ultimately returned to the Sudan. The Narrator follows a similar route but

Tayeb Salih (1929-2009)

I pursued her for three years. Every day the string of the bow became more taut. It was with air that my waterskins were distended; my caravans were thirsty, and the mirage shimmered before me in the wilderness of longing; the arrow's target had been fixed and it was inevitable that the tragedy would take place.

Though Tayeb Salih spent his working life in London, Doha and Paris (primarily in broadcasting) he clearly never forgot that he was born in a northern Sudanese
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I look for a book with a compelling plot, sometimes I look for a beautifully written book, and other times I look for an intriguing political/social message. This book answers to all three beautifully...a rare find. This is a brilliant book.
Richard Derus
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: Shovelmonkey1
Rating: 3.25* of five

The Book Report: A young Sudanese man, away in England studying for a university degree, returns in some disgrace to his native Nile-side village to lick his wounds. Mustafa, the village Scheherezade, tells the amorous adventures that were his years in the then-colonial power of England. A tragedy occurs, and life isn't the same. Or is it? Will it be? The last three pages of the book are a breathtakingly lovely statement of that question.

My Review: Published in 1966, the
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tony by: Shovelmonkey1
The Sudanese narrator of this novel returns after seven years study in England. He is received warmly. Bint Majzoub put it to him in her peculiar earthy fashion, “We were afraid you’d bring back with you an uncircumcised infidel for a wife.”

He brings instead a developing awareness for Sudan in its post-colonial state, and for men like himself and the enigmatic Moustafa Sa’eed who have tasted both lives. He sees a Sudan where the British left because they had no need to stay:

Be sure, though, that
Laila Lalami reveals in the introduction to this slender volume that Tayeb Salih wrote in Arabic as a matter of principle, as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o decided to write in Gikuyu, explaining his decision in Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature with force and clarity: English is the language of colonisation, it cuts off the native from her culture, her people, enforces a way of knowing, a mode of relation and experience. Understanding this, I treasure the art of ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Buy this book. Buy it new, don't get a second hand copy from a thrift shop. Buy the Penguin Classics edition.

This was first published in Arabic in September 1966. It was banned in Egypt for almost thirty years until an Egyptian publisher re-published a low-priced edition of about a hundred thousand copies which sold out in a matter of days.

A publishing house in Beirut had been publishing this since 1970. Hundreds of thousands of copies had been distributed throughout the Arab world. In some of
Nabse Bamato
It is easy to see why Season of Migration to the North has become recognised as a classic. Much better minds than mine, who are eminently qualified to comment on the novel have dissected it and analysed it and I would not wish to try and add to the discussion – it is more than is possible in a short review. However, I can tell you what I liked about it, and, as the 5 star rating shows, I did like it a lot.

The basic story is simple; a young (north) Sudanese man, who spent 7 years in Europe - and
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mustafa Sa'eed and the unnamed narrator of the novel, Season of Migration to the North, represent the debauched and romantic Oriental view of the East. The Occidents carry their unilateral image everywhere they go. For the Orients and sometimes, even for the Occidents since they have internalised the views bombarded upon them, age, gender, educational background, religious and ethnic differences, among others, don't seem to matter and they are often seen in one light - the embodiment of the ...more
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Naeem by: mary markowicz
Having just read this for a 4th or more time, I still don't quite know how to talk about it.

What I can tell you: its very readable; its a page turner; it sits in the gap between prose and poetry; its about the relationship between desire. I think this is a meditation on the nature of sexual desire in the contact zone between the first and third worlds.

Written in Arabic in the mid 1960s and translated into English in 1969, the novel has not at all become dated -- themes of desire cross with
Alice Lippart
Beautiful writing, but overall not for me.
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, library
Oh. Lord. How does one review a book which culminates in (view spoiler) and (view spoiler)?

My experience with Season of Migration to the North was somewhat similar to reading The Time of the Doves, which – just like this book – is hailed the best book of the twentieth century written in its language: I approached both with expectations which weren’t met. I feel,
Inderjit Sanghera
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘Season of Migration to the North’ is the story of a prodigiously talented and intelligent young Sudanese man, Mustafa Sa’eed, and his life in post-war England. The novel is replete with intensely poetic passages and beautiful metaphors-think of it as being like a modern day Arabian Nights, which explores post-colonial identity and the cult of orientalism; in many ways, Mustafa, cruel, capricious, exotic and lascivious, symbolises all this fetishisation of the ‘Orient’ by the West-Mustafa ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
A novella about a Sudanese man who returns from studying abroad and meets a sex-crazed psychopath who also lived in Europe and wants to tell the narrator all about his encounters with women, aka “his prey,” in which he encouraged them to exoticize him and finally drove them all to suicide with the power of his penis. Except one, whom he married, then murdered (not a spoiler). For real.

Okay, look, this is a well-written book that manages to say a lot about colonialism in relatively few pages
Missy J
By the standards of the European industrial world we are poor peasants, but when I embrace grandfather I experience a sense of richness as though I am a note in the heartbeats of the very universe.

Excellent writing! My reading of books translated from Arabic to English is severely limited. This year I read Sinan Antoon's The Corpse Washer and found it lyrical in a phenomenal way. Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North is equally very lyrical and evocative. Even though it is a short
Mira Jundi
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an astonishing novel!

In a different - but somehow similar- way, Salih and Conrad went deep down to represent colonialism in a breathtaking manner. In his Heart of Darkness, Conrad tells the story of a white man who goes through the Congo river to reach Africa, while in this novel, Salih tells the story of a black man who goes through the Thames river to reach England. However, the seeking reader is not able to find neither light nor darkness in both places.

Mustafa Saeed and the narrator
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book was one of the group reads for the Goodreads group "The World's Literature." It is also a book for me to check off Sudan from my dwindling list of African countries I still need to read a book from.

Originally published in Arabic in 1966 and translated into English in 1969, the narrator of this novel has recently returned to the village of his upbringing, after being educated in Cairo and London. His re-entry into his old life isn't completely seamless, and there is one man living
A depressing book, but there are a lot of elegant passages and the author takes a hard look at colonialism and gender relations in post-colonial Sudan. I can understand why this is considered one of the most important novels to come out of Sudan in the 20th century. A good three stars
Mar 16, 2017 marked it as to-read
How long before I stop hearing about books I've never heard of? Now there's this guy.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Famous orientalist Edward Said once remarked that Arabic got very few novels, as it lacked books about collective experience (biographies, memoirs, etc). I don't know much about the current status of Arabic novel, as from the popular information, Arab states are still under severe censor and restrictions.

This novel has been considered one of five best novels in Arabic by Edward Said himself, and it truly deserved this recognition. Strong characters and story keep you hooked once you start
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel was banned in Sudan for some time due to its shocking content but is now considered as one of the best arabic books of the 20th century. I have read it several times and I'll surely read it again. It's a very unusual and complicated book which deals with The East-West conflict, sexism, traditions, freedom, love and so many other themes. It's no wonder that Tayib Salih was acclaimed as "the genius of the arabic novel".
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The Sudanese writer al-Tayyib Salih (Arabic: الطيب صالح)has been described as the "genius of the modern Arabic novel." He has lived abroad for most of his life, yet his fiction is firmly rooted in the village in which he spent his early years. His most well-known work is the modern classic Mawsim al-hijra ila’l-shamal (1967; Season of Migration to the North), which received great critical ...more
“إنني أريد أن آخذ حقي من الحياة عنوة.أريد أن أعطي بسخاء، أريد أن يفيض الحب من قلبي فينبع ويثمر.ثمة آفاق كثيرة لابد أن تزار، ثمة ثمار يجب أن تقطف، كتب كثيرة تقرأ، وصفحات بيضاء في سجل العمر، سأكتب فيها جملاً واضحة بخط جريء.” 664 likes
“سأحيا لأن ثمة أناس قليلين أحب أن أبقى معهم أطول وقت ممكن
ولأن عليّ واجبات يجب أن أؤديها ,لا يعنيني إن كان للحياة معنى أو لم يكن لها معنى وإن كنت لا أستطيع أن أغفر فسأحاول أن أنسى”
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