Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I wish I could say that I understood Tayeb Salih's novel, Season of Migration to the North. It reminds me of the works of Albert Camus, opaque and nonlinear, a story related by a questionably reliable narrator in episodes that convey its themes of colonialism and the fragmentation of post-colonial Sudan.

I wish I had more understanding of how the unnamed narrator's status as a British-educated scholar, returned to his home village, leads to his acquaintance with the mysterious Mustafa Sa'eed, likewise a British-educated Arab who leverages his Western education and his Occidental looks and ways into a serious of sexual conquests, always ending in disaster for the British women in question.

I wish I had engaged with the characters more.

I wish I had cared enough to follow the twists and turns of this novel, as its plot points wind through and arranged marriage, female circumcision, sexual adventurism, and culture wars.

I wish I had read this in school, so a professor and my classmates could lead me through the maze and light up the dark corners.


"Did you love Mustafa Sa'eed?" I suddenly asked her.

She did not answer. Though I waited a while she still did not answer. Then I realized that the darkness and the perfume were all but causing me to lose control and that mine was not a question to be asked at such a time and place.

However, it was not long before her voice breached a gap in the darkness and broke through to my ear. "He was the father of my children." If I am right in my belief, the voice was not sad, in fact it contained a caressing tenderness. I let the silence whisper to her, hoping she would say something further. Yes, here it was: "He was a generous husband and a generous father. He never let us want for anything in his whole life."

. . . Suddenly a large opening occurred in the darkness through which penetrated a voice, this time a sad one with a sadness deeper than the bottom of the river. "I think he was hiding something," she said. 

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

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