The writer of the┬áSudanese novel has passed into legend, at 80, of kidney complications. Yet, his most important book beat him to┬áliterary immortality ┬áby forty years at least. Season of Migration to the North was a signal book, a┬ánovel with perennial relevance, which┬ápersisted in the reader’s imagination, decade after decade.

It certainly haunted me. My 2006 paper, Journeying South-East┬áThrough North-West,┬á presented to the ASA/UK conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London was seamed with echoes of his book. Earlier that year, when I visited Sudan, I had┬ástopped over for drinks in his hometown by the Nile, an event I’ve ┬ásince blogged.┬á Salih was that great painter of the Sudanese countryside, and chronicler of┬áhis compatriots’┬áspirit. Reading his book was the luminous window into the world I entered. With his fictional world as backdrop, reality was one instance of deja vu after the other.

He was born in Marawi, Northern Sudan. It was still a small, sedate,┬áplace. Standing┬áthere by the bank of the┬áNile it was easy to imagine Salih’s narrator/hero, floating in the river at the end of Seasons of Migration.

The waters of life have now borne┬áSalih himself off, on currents more insistent than those of the Nile. Yet,┬áhis work: his novels, short stories and┬ácolumns,┬á a published prowess that sprawls across twenty languages, a reputation as the writer of the ┬á20th century’s greatest Arabic┬ánovel, all these presage a migration not to the North, but to the stars.

Rest now, Tayeb.

Chuma Nwokolo

One Reply to “Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the Stars”

  1. Isa Mohammed says:

    He was a true writer and hero. May he rest in peace.

    Reply

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