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Season of Migration to the North

A Novel

Salih Al-Tayyib

Africa Orientale

Anno - Date de Parution


Titolo originale

Season of Migration to the North: A Novel

Lingua originale


Lingua - language - langue


Ristampa - Réédition - Reprint

Penguin 2003


Denys Johnson-Davies (United States) - order this book
Season of Migration to the North: A Novel

Season of Migration to the North Season of Migration to the North  

One of the classic themes followed in this complex novel, translated from the Arabic, is cultural dissonance between East and West, particularly the experience of a returned native. The narrator returns from his studies in England to his remote little village in Sudan, to begin his career as an educator. There he encounters Mustafa, a fascinating man of mystery, who also has studied at Oxford. As their relationship builds on this commonality, Mustafa reveals his past. A series of compulsive liaisons with English women who were similarly infatuated with the "Black Englishman," as he was nicknamed, have ended in disaster. Charged with the passion killing of his last paramour, Mustafa was acquitted by the English courts. As he unravels his complicated, gory and erotic story, Mustafa charges the listener with the custody of his present life. When Mustafa disappears, apparently drowned in the Nile and perhaps a suicide, another door in his secretive life opens to include his wife and children. Emerging from a constantly evolving narrative, in a trance-like telling, is the clash between an assumed worldly sophistication and enduring, dark, elemental forces. An arresting work by a major Arab novelist who mines the rich lode of African experience with the Western world.


Recensione in lingua italiana

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 aquaintances. 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 doppelganger. 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.


Salih Al-Tayyib

A tutt’oggi il grande pubblico europeo non conosce la letteratura sudanese in lingua araba se non attraverso l’opera del celebre autore Tayyib Saleh. Questi pubblicò Dûmat Wad Hamid e ‘Urs az-Zayn – di cui esiste anche l’adattamento cinematografico- ma è il suo romanzo Mawsim al- hijra ila al-shamal (“Stagione di una migrazione verso il Nord”), pubblicato nel 1968, che lo renderà celebre nel mondo arabo, dove la sua opera lascerà il segno nella critica letteraria, e in Occidente, essendo stati tradotti in inglese e francese molti suoi romanzi. Attraverso il racconto del ritorno al Paese di origine dopo un lungo soggiorno in Gran Bretagna, il narratore di “Stagione di una migrazione verso il Nord” e il suo interlocutore trattano numerose tematiche: la vita di un immigrato in Europa e, parallelamente, le difficoltà del ritorno dopo un lungo esilio, la dolcezza apparente della vita rurale, ma anche la condizione femminile e il peso delle tradizioni in Sudan.

Al-Tayyib Salih (Arabic: ÇáØíøÈ ÕÇáÍ) is a noted Sudanese writer. Born in the Northern Province of the Sudan in 1929, he studied at the University of Khartoum before leaving for the University of London, England. Coming from a background of small farmers and religious teachers, his original intention was to work in agriculture. Except, however, for a brief spell as a schoolmaster before coming to England, his working life has been in broadcasting.

His works are generally political, dealing with themes such as colonization and gender. Salih is also considered one of the best short story writers working in Arabic today. Having studied both western and Arab literature, philosophy, and society, Salih intermingles aspects of both cultures in his works.

When his novel Season of Migration to the North was first published in Arabic, in Beirut in the late 1960s, Salih was acclaimed as "the new genius of the Arabic novel" In 2001, this was declared "the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century" by the Syrian-based Arab Literary Academy in Damascus. His works have been translated from Arabic into more than 20 languages.

Salih has completed three other novels and a collection of short stories. His novella "The Wedding of Zein" was made into a drama in Libya and a Cannes Festival prize-winning film by the Kuwaiti filmmaker Khalid Siddiq in the late 1970s.

For more than 10 years Salih wrote a weekly column for the London-based Arabic language newspaper, "al Majalla," in which he explored various literary themes. He has worked for the BBC's Arabic Service, and later became director general of the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar. He spent the last 10 years of his working career with UNESCO in Paris, where he held various posts and was finally UNESCO's representative in the Gulf States.

A Handful of Dates
Dau al-Bayt
Doma wad Hamed
Mariud (Bandar Shah)
Season of Migration to the North - 1967
The Wedding of Zein - 1969

Consulta anche: Scheda della tesi di Alessandra Priore sulla narrativa di Salih Al-Tayyib