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Season of Migration to the North
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Tour d'Afrique M-Z Books 2012-16 > Salih: Season of Migration to the North | Sudan (Tour D'Afrique) first read: Mar 2016

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Welcome to our second tour stop of 2016--the Republic of Sudan! We are reading Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. From the Wikipedia page for the book:

"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] The English translation was published in 1969 as part of the influential Heinemann African Writers Series. The novel is a counternarrative to Heart of Darkness. It was described by Edward Said as one of the ten great novels in Arabic literature."


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Picked this up from the library the other day! I'm looking forward to it.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I will be joining as soon as I finish Nervous Conditions, but I'm really savouring this - such a great book!


Jean I just finished it with many thoughts churning in my head.


message 5: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I just finished it with many thoughts churning in my head."

Feel free to start sharing thoughts and asking questions! But since it's early in our tour stop, try to hide any spoilers.


Jean I think I' ll wait until later.


message 7: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I think I' ll wait until later."

okay; but don't forget all your thoughts! do you keep notes when you're reading?


Jean Not usually but I think I need to begin note taking.


Niraj (njdreads) | 22 comments Jean, I feel the same way, and it's been a year since I read it! It's been haunting me ever since - I think that's an appropriate choice of word given what happens... And that last part of it has been echoing in my head. Wanted to re-read it as part of the group, but at the moment, deep into something else - I hope to at some point this year though.


Rosalinda  (rosapal) My copy has just arrived. ;)


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 13 comments Thanks to the group for he needed push for me to finally read this book! I'd been meaning to but had not gotten around to it, and it's so short there's no reason not to. Looking forward to discussing it with you all.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I've read it (very short) and I didn't like it at all haha!


Beverly | 543 comments Zanna wrote: "I've read it (very short) and I didn't like it at all haha!"

I have to agree with you. :)


Beverly | 543 comments Marieke wrote: "Jean wrote: "I think I' ll wait until later."

okay; but don't forget all your thoughts! do you keep notes when you're reading?"


Sometimes I take notes.

But a lot of my reading is at night when lying down so not much notes.

But starting to keep small post-it notes so can mark a page if reading a print book.


message 15: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I haven't found my note-taking groove. Sometimes I scribble down thoughts or quotes, sometimes I mark a page to go back to, sometimes I take a few moments to write down my reaction after I've been reading. The one thing I've tried to be consistent about in the last year is to write a "review" as soon as I've finished a book so that I can at the very least jog my memory in the future about whether and why I did or did not like a book. That's why my reviews are quite brief...they are all off the cuff! I don't have time or energy to do anything more in depth than that lol.


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
I don't take notes, but I fold down corners for things I want to remember -- much like using Post-It notes. Bottom corners for quotations I want to write down and top corners for things to come back to. Not ideal but does the trick!


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I thought I would share my note-taking!
I sometimes write no notes at all, other times I write loads, it really depends on the book. Doris Lessing and Ursula Le Guin usually stimulate my to write pages. When I read Orientalism I filled a small school exercise book with notes - I keep the exercise book with my copy of the text!

I do most of my reading while commuting and I have a tiny book 15cm by 10cm and very thin, that I use to make notes in out and about. Usually I write very small! At the moment I am not making many notes:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...

At home I read books that are too awkward to carry around, or ebooks on a mini-tablet. If I take notes, I write them in the back of my current to-do list notebook which lives on my desk, which is next to my bed (my bed is my desk chair - London living!)
This is my third double page of notes on The Wretched of the Earth
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Reviewed it, though I may edit
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 19: by Jean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean I did decide to go back and take notes on this book and ended up with quite a few notes. Notes, I must add, that lowered my rating of the book. I didn't physically lower the rating but in my mind I definitely did.


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Marieke, is there a way to add the book to the 'this topic is about' thing? (Hoping to see people's ratings more easily...)


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 13 comments Zanna wrote: "Reviewed it, though I may edit
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


Actually this is why I haven't read this book before. It does not sound appealing.


message 22: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Liralen wrote: "Marieke, is there a way to add the book to the 'this topic is about' thing? (Hoping to see people's ratings more easily...)"

Of course! i just did it. So sorry about that; i just forgot when i set up the thread.

and since i came here to catch up after getting dinner set up in the crock pot, OF COURSE the baby wakes up from his nap. lol.

I'll be back later...so happy to see a discussion developing here :D


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments There were some things I liked about the book - the spontaneous night of revelry in the desert was an interesting scene. How did other folks interpret that?


message 24: by Liralen (last edited Mar 05, 2016 03:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liralen | 180 comments Mod
I've just finished it and am not quite sure what to think, to be honest. Found it really interesting up until...midway? The colonialism themes are thought-provoking, but I get stuck on the way women are portrayed, even given the context of time and place. (view spoiler)


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Liralen wrote: "I've just finished it and am not quite sure what to think, to be honest. Found it really interesting up until...midway? The colonialism themes are thought-provoking, but I get stuck on the way wome..."

EXACTLY.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Liralen wrote: "I've just finished it and am not quite sure what to think, to be honest. Found it really interesting up until...midway? The colonialism themes are thought-provoking, but I get stuck on the way wome..."

(view spoiler)

Ooh I've just thought - anyone wanting an antidote to this book - I HIGHLY recommend Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi


message 27: by Liralen (last edited Mar 05, 2016 03:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Hah! Yes. If it's symbolic of colonialism, okay, but the other symbols of colonialism aren't so thinly fleshed out: so why the women? Also, while all the men who've ever met Sa'eed seem to hold him in the highest esteem, the women just adore him (view spoiler). That letter from Mrs Robinson -- 'I am keeping myself busy writing a book about our life -- about Ricky, Moozie and me. They were both great men, each in his own way... The book will actually be about Ricky and Moozie because I did nothing of note' (148).

I'd have to think this through more, but feels a little like it's mixing symbols? If women are seen as the colonised, but so are Sa'eed's marks in general, and you have women who are his marks...


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Oh god that letter, I think I blocked it out...


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Consider Hosna. (view spoiler)


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
(view spoiler)


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Oh do speculate :-)


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I found this essay about Mustafa Sa'eed's interracial relationships
http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_1803...
I totally agree that the white women fail to divest from colonial thinking. Sa'eed primes and stokes and stirs up colonial thinking. It's a sting operation.


Beverly | 543 comments Marieke wrote: "I haven't found my note-taking groove. Sometimes I scribble down thoughts or quotes, sometimes I mark a page to go back to, sometimes I take a few moments to write down my reaction after I've been ..."

Congrats on doing comments as soon as you finish reading.
That is my goal for this year and I falling behind.


message 34: by Liralen (last edited Mar 06, 2016 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "I totally agree that the white women fail to divest from colonial thinking. Sa'eed primes and stokes and stirs up colonial thinking. It's a sting operation. "

Yes, as symbols of colonialism they are quite something. Ann Hammond's creepy eroticisation (is there an actual word for this?) of Sa'eed...although if the women are representatives of colonialism, I'm not sure how to interpret the suicides.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments exactly


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "Oh do speculate :-)"

Haha, okay, let's see how badly I can botch this: (view spoiler)


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Great analysis! I think it works. I concur with your reading that the narrator is made ineffectual by colonialism... it's as if he can only observe colonial processes in himself, he can't act...


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Thanks, Zanna :)

You mentioned that 'spontaneous night of revelry' -- what did you make of that?


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments A glimpse of a possible life beyond colonialism, a unity of the people in the land. But - without ties? It is a floating world, a dream?

Bedouin people are famously socially liberal... the Bedu women are the only women present... what is their significance here?

I was also interested in the Bedouin man who begged a cigarette from the protagonist. Any thoughts on him?


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
I was thinking along similar lines -- it seems to be a moment of pure 'good' that's closely tied to local themes, with only minimal nods to outside influences (e.g., the headlights of the cars). But one that can't last.

Not sure what to make of the Bedouin, and I think my (white, Western, limited, contemporary, etc.) perspective is confusing matters there -- I'm inclined to see the cigarettes as a sort of Western corruption of this man, but I don't know if cigarettes are as much as a Western thing as I'm seeing them or if the author views them (as I do) as cancer sticks or...and yet, here the narrator is, talking about how hot and shadeless it is, and then along comes this man entrenched in a very old culture, energetic and flat-out surviving despite the heat (and lack of tobacco).


message 41: by Liralen (last edited Mar 06, 2016 05:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liralen | 180 comments Mod
(Pssst Marieke/Beverly/Jean/Niraj/Rosa/anyone else -- any thoughts?)


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Haha it's as if the cigarette is the only thing he needs from outside the desert = )


message 43: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Liralen wrote: "(Pssst Marieke/Beverly/Jean/Niraj/Rosa/anyone else -- any thoughts?)"

i'm enjoying the discussion! i have read this book twice; once in college and once a few years ago. when i read it a few years ago, it was like reading it for the first time. i remembered basically nothing from college reading. and while everyone's comments are jogging my memory, my memory is not jogged enough for me to contribute without at least a skimming of the book...not sure if i can get around to a reread! i will try though since it's short and April is not quite as clogged with reading plans as March.

very happy to see all this discussion in any case!


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Yes its been very stimulating!


message 45: by Jean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean Will be joining you shortly.


message 46: by Jean (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean To me from the beginning of the book, Mustafa comes across as a cold selfish person with a sense of entitlement. My first thought is where is this coming from? Is it because his mother seems distant, or because there is no male figure after his father dies? Is this his genius mentally, or could it possibly be, even as a child, he feels the effects of the colonialism?


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Interesting point -- even when he's first talking about his upbringing, he says he was never like other kids. I'm reluctant to attribute that to lack of a male figure (wouldn't bode well for his kids with Hosna!), but you're right that there isn't an explicit explanation for it.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Oh I'm glad to hear your perspective Jean. I thought that his self-description was so extreme, it must have been some predisposition to lacking empathy. Colonial/white ideology is militantly rationalist - all women and all native people are denigrated as 'emotional', so Mustafa's near-psychopathic lack of emotionality could be what gives him so much power to counter-colonise?!?!


Liralen | 180 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "Mustafa's near-psychopathic lack of emotionality could be what gives him so much power to counter-colonise?"

Oof. What might that say about others' ability to counter-colonise? And what does it say that despite (because of?) his aloofness, etc., the women all adore him?


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments Colonizing requires negation of the humanity of the colonised no? The less you feel, the more you can raze. The women are socialised to believe in colonial ideology...


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