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 ‘Season of Migration to the North’. He was often described as the ‘genius of the modern Arab novel’ 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. ‘Mawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamal’ (or ‘Season of Migration to the North’) 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 ‘Urs al-Zayn’, ‘Al-Rajul al Qubrosi’, ‘Doumat Wad Hamid’, and ‘A Handful of Dates’. He introduced a Yearly Award to encourage and appreciate young and budding writers

Tayeb Salih

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 BBC’s 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 UNESCO’s 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 ‘Mawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamal’ 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 ‘Urs al-Zayn’ 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 ‘Daw al-Bayt’ (Bandarshah I, 1971), ‘Maryud’ (Bandarshah II, 1976), ‘Al-Rajul al Qubrosi’ (The Cypriot Man, 1978), and ‘Doumat Wad Hamid’ (The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid, 1985).

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Major Works


Awards & Achievements


Personal Life & Legacy


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Last Updated

- November 06, 2017

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