Tayeb Salih Bibliography Format
Al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ, (born 1929, Al-Shamalīyah province, Sudan—died Feb. 18, 2009, London, Eng.), Arabic-language novelist and short-story writer whose works explore the intersections of traditional and modern life in Africa.
Ṣāliḥ attended universities in the Sudan (in Khartoum) and in London and devoted much of his professional life to radio broadcasting, for many years as head of drama for the BBC Arabic Service. Coming from a rural background of small farmers and orthodox religious teachers, he attempted in his work to harmonize the traditions of the past with the worldliness of the “traveled man,” the African who has returned from schooling abroad. His novelMawsim al-hijrah ilā al-shamāl (1966; Season of Migration to the North) is a prose poem that reflects the conflicts of modern Africa: traditions and common sense versus education, rural versus urban, men versus women, and the specific versus the universal. Ṣāliḥ’s prose is polyrhythmic and haunting.
The tales in ʿUrs al-Zayn (1967; Eng. trans. The Wedding of Zein & Other Stories) evoke the warmth, compassion, humour, and sadness of traditional Sudanese Arabic life, examining authority and unwritten codes through its beautifully structured narrative rhythms. In the 1970s he wrote two short volumes, translated into English as Bandarshah, and later published a multivolume autobiography.
Tayeb Salih was a Sudanese author who shot to fame through his novel âSeason of Migration to the Northâ. He was often described as the âgenius of the modern Arab novelâ by literary critics. Coming from a humble background of religious educators and small farmers, Tayeb Salih set his storylines grounded to his hometown, outlining the communal rural life. In a period when social criticism, bitter realities of life and committed literature dominated Arabic literature, he broke the monotony with his distinct ideologies of his cultural background and religious upbringing. After a stint in teaching, journalism and broadcasting, he took to writing and authored some of the most acclaimed literary works. âMawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamalâ (or âSeason of Migration to the Northâ) became his classic work of fiction of his literary career, which made him one of the greatest Arabic authors of the 20th century. Despite being the top novelist in the Arab world, his works were hardly recognized in the US. Nevertheless, such was his popularity that his novels have seen translations in more than 20 languages. Some of the novels authored by him include âUrs al-Zaynâ, âAl-Rajul al Qubrosiâ, âDoumat Wad Hamidâ, and âA Handful of Datesâ. He introduced a Yearly Award to encourage and appreciate young and budding writers
Childhood & Early Life
- Tayeb Salih was born on July 12, 1929 in Karmakal, close to Al Dabbah village, northern Sudan, into a family of farmers and religious teachers.He went to quranic school initially and later completed his schooling from Gordon College, Khartoum.He attended the University of Khartoum and started working as a teacher, with the desire of making a career in agriculture.Eventually, he left for the University of London, England, for higher studies.
- After graduating from the University of London, he started working with BBCâs Arabic Service as the Head of Drama. He was then hired by the Ministry of Information, Doha, Qatar, as Director-General.For ten years, he worked as UNESCOâs representative in the Gulf States.He was introduced to literature while working at al Majalla, a London-based Arabic magazine, where he used to write a weekly column.Most of his fictional works were centered on the village life and complex relationships of people in northern Sudan, despite living abroad for most of his life.He released his novel âMawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamalâ in 1966, which was published in English in 1969 and was later translated into over 30 languages.Despite its popularity across the world, the novel was banned in Sudan. It was made into a theatrical play, where the protagonist, Mohammed Bakri, received the Best Actor award at the 1993 Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre.His comic short story collection âUrs al-Zaynâ was released in 1969, which narrates the ordeals of an odd-looking man while searching for a suitable bride.His other novels in English include âDaw al-Baytâ (Bandarshah I, 1971), âMaryudâ (Bandarshah II, 1976), âAl-Rajul al Qubrosiâ (The Cypriot Man, 1978), and âDoumat Wad Hamidâ (The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid, 1985).
- Through his 1964 âA Handful of Datesâ, a collection of short stories, he attempted to make the reader realize that life offers plenty of choices and is not just a palette full of worries.His 1966 masterpiece âMawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamalâ, translated as âSeason of Migration to the Northâ, describing the clash of east-west civilizations, is a modern classic work of Arab literature, which made him world-famous.He launched the Yearly Award, in association with Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre, Omdurman, in 1998, wherein the Board of Trustees awards a writer from the participating novels. The first prize was given away in 2003.
Awards & Achievements
- His book âThe Wedding of Zeinâ was adapted into a Kuwaiti movie and was well-received by film critics and movie buffs equally, clinching an award at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.In 2001, Damascus-based Arab Literary Academy announced his novel âSeason of Migration to the Northâ as âthe most important Arabic novel of the 20th centuryâ.âSeason of Migration to the Northâ was voted among the â100 Greatest Books in Historyâ by authors from 54 nations in a writersâ poll, conducted in 2002.
Personal Life & Legacy
- In 1965, he married Julia Maclean, a Scottish native, and settled down in south-west London. The couple has three daughters â Zainab, Sara, and Samira.He died on February 18, 2009, at the age of 80, after suffering from a kidney failure in a London hospital.His body was flown to Sudan where he was buried at al-Bakri Cemetery, Omdurman, on February 20, in the presence of over 1,500 mourners.Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre introduced Tayeb Salih Short Story Writing Prize for Youth in 2008, as a mark of respect to this distinguished Arab novelist.Khartoum International Community School (KICS) started the Yearly Award, in his honor, which recognizes the talent of KICS students only and rewards them
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- November 06, 2017
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