Robert Irwin gives Prize Lecture on Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North: ‘The most important Arabic novel of the 20th Century’

7 November '17 at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

The masterpiece of the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih (1929-2009), Season of Migration to the North was first published in Arabic in 1966 and was published in English translation by Denys Johnson-Davies in 1969.

It has been rightly subject to much analysis for treatment of colonialism, anti-colonialism, authoritarianism, resistance to social change and patriarchy. But this has been at the cost of more literary appraisals. The novel and its sequel Bandarshah drew upon The Arabian Nights, the Qur‘an, pre-Islamic poetry and Sufi narratives, as well as Heart of Darkness, Othello, The Tempest and the writings of Freud. The stories Tayeb Salih told took up those older narratives and they in turn commented on the stories he was telling.

In 2001 the Arab Literary Academy declared Season of Migration to the North to be ‘the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century’. This is not a verdict that our speaker – the acclaimed writer on Arabic history and literature, Robert Irwin – intends to challenge.

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Knowledge Centre, The British Library

96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB


Banipal Trust for Arab Literature

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