Season of Migration to the North, Paperback

Season of Migration to the North Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'"Season of Migration to the North" is an Arabian Nights in reverse, enclosing a pithy moral about international misconceptions and delusions.

The brilliant student of an earlier generation returns to his Sudanese village; obsession with the mysterious West and a desire to bite the hand that has half-fed him, has led him to London and the beds of women with similar obsessions about the mysterious East.

He kills them at the point of ecstasy and the Occident, in its turn, destroys him.

Powerfully and poetically written and splendidly translated by Denys Johnson-Davies' - "Observer".




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After studying English literature in London the unnamed narrator returns to his village in the Sudan to find that in his absence a mysterious stranger has settled there. The new settler, Mustafa Sa'eed, has impressed many of the villagers with his hard work and intelligence, but they know little about his earlier life. Sa'eed begins to reveal to the narrator the tragedy of his former life in the London of the twenties. Sa'eed had left his home as a child, to be educated by the English first in Cairo, then in London. He had studied at Oxford and gained fame for his economic theories, but remained an exotic oddity, a savage or a god, never the person in-between. The poetry of Salih's writing illustrates the gap between the English and Arabic cultures; it is distant and beautiful, almost biblical.As the narrator discovers more about the mystery of Sa'eed, the tension builds. The final tragedy has its roots not only in Sa'eed's past, but in Arab culture itself.Almost until the very end I thought this was a wonderful book, but the revelation of Sa'eed's English downfall was too reminiscent of D. H. Lawrence. Even so, the book is well worth reading.

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