18 February 2009

The Passing of Tayeb Salih

'A doctorate -- that's really something.'

Putting on an act of humility, I told him that the matter entailed no more than spending three years delving into the life of an obscure English poet.

I was furious--I won't disguise the fact from you--when the man laughed unashamedly and said: 'We have no need of poetry here. It would have been better if you'd studied agriculture, engineering or medicine.' Look at the way he says 'we' and does not include me, though he knows that this is my village and that it is he--not I--who is the stranger.
With this interaction begins the unraveling of a tale of travel, romance, books and colonialism in Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North (1966). It's a wonderful novel.

The author has passed.