Season of Migration to the North by Al-Tayyib Salih

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Season of Migration to the North is a classic post-colonial Sudanese novel by the late novelist Al-Tayyib Salih. The novel charts individuation of the (un-named) narrator, who has returned to his native village in the Sudan having spent seven years in England furthering his education. On his arrival home, he encounters a new villager ("Mustafa Sa'eed") who exhibits none of the adulation for his achievements that most others do, and displays an antagonistically aloof nature. The villager betrays his past one drunken evening by wistfully reciting poetry in fluent English, leaving the narrator resolute to discover the stranger's identity. As it turns out Mustafa was also a precocious student educated in the west but simultaneously harbors a violently hateful and complex relationship with his western identity and acquaintances. The story of Mustafa's troubled past in Europe and in particular his love affair with a British woman, forms the center of the novel. What the narrator then discovers about the stranger, Mustafa Sa'eed, awakens in him great curiosity, despair and anger, as Mustafa emerges as his doppelgänger. The stories of Mustafa's past life in England, and the repercussions on the village around him, take a toll on the narrator, who is driven to the very edge of sanity. It is only finally, floating in the river Nile, precariously between life and death, that the narrator makes the conscious choice to rid himself of Mustafa's lingering presence, and to stand as an influential individual in his own right.

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The 464th greatest fiction book of all time


This book is on the following lists:

  1. - Top 100 Works in World Literature (Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute)

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