Tayeb Salih

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Tayeb Salih
Tayeb saleh.jpg
Born12 July 1929
Al Dabbah, Sudan
Died18 February 2009(2009-02-18) (aged 79)
London, England
OccupationNovelist, Columnist
Alma materUniversity of Khartoum, University of London
Literary movementPostcolonialism
Notable worksSeason of Migration to the North, The Wedding of Zein

Tayeb Salih (Arabic: الطيب صالح‎; 12 July 1929 – 18 February 2009)[1] was one of Sudan's greatest authors of the twentieth century.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Karmakol, near the village of Al Dabbah, Sudan Al Dabbah in the Northern Province of Sudan,[3] he graduated from University of Khartoum with a Bachelor of Science before leaving for the University of London in England. Coming from a background of small farmers and religious teachers, his original intention was to work in agriculture. However, excluding a brief spell as a schoolmaster before coming to England, his working life was in broadcasting.

For more than ten years, Salih wrote a weekly column for the London-based Arabic language newspaper al Majalla in which he explored various literary themes. He worked for the BBC's Arabic Service and later became director general of the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar. He spent the last 10 years of his working career with UNESCO in Paris, where he held various posts and was UNESCO's representative in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[4]

Literary career[edit]

Tayeb Salih's writing is drawn from his experience of communal village life that is centered on people and their complex relationships. "At various levels and with varying degrees of psychoanalytic emphasis, he deals with themes of reality and illusion, the cultural dissonance between the West and the exotic orient, the harmony and conflict of brotherhood, and the individual's responsibility to find a fusion between his or her contradictions" [5] (Tayeb Salih (n.d)). It can be said that the motifs of his books are derived from his Islamic background and his experience of modern Africa, both pre- and post-colonial[5] (Tayeb Salih (n.d)).

In 1966, Salih published his novel Mawsim al-Hijrah ilâ al-Shamâl (Season of Migration to the North), the one for which he is best known. It was first published in the Beirut journal Hiwâr. The main concern of the novel is with the impact of British colonialism and European modernity on rural African societies in general and Sudanese culture and identity in particular. His novel reflects the conflicts of modern Sudan and depicts the brutal history of European colonialism as shaping the reality of contemporary Sudanese society.[6]. Mawsim al-Hijrah ilâ al-Shamâl is a story told to an unspecified audience of the “traveled man,” the African who has returned from schooling abroad by an unnamed narrator. The narrator returns to his Sudanese village of Wad Hamid on the Nile in the 1950s after writing a phD thesis on ‘the life of an obscure English poet’. Mustafa Sa'eed, the main protagonist of the novel, is a child of British colonialism, and a fruit of colonial education. He is also a monstrous product of his time. Mawsim al-Hijrah ilâ al-Shamâl is considered to be an important turning point in the development of postcolonial narratives that focus on the encounter between East and West. Damascus-based Arab Literary Academy named it one of the best novels in Arabic of the twentieth century.[6] The novel was banned in Salih's native Sudan for several years despite the fact that it won him prominence and fame worldwide.[7] The novel was adapted into a theater production in Israel.

Urs' al-Zayn (published in English as The Wedding of Zein) is a comic novella published in 1969 centering on the unlikely nuptials of the town eccentric Zein. Tall and odd-looking, with just two teeth in his mouth, Zein has made a reputation for himself as the man who falls in love over and over with girls who promptly marry other men- to the point where mothers seek him out in hopes that he will draw the eye of available suitors to their eligible daughters.[8] (The Boston Bibiophile, 2010)

"The Wedding of Zein" was made into a drama in Libya and won Kuwaiti filmmaker Khalid Siddiq an award in the Cannes Festival in the late 1970s.[citation needed]

the year he stroke up the yearly award Yearly Award, Endorsed by Tayeb Salih during his life and organized by Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre, Omdurman,Sudan.[9] A group of Salih's friends and fans formed a committee to honour him in 1998. The committee collected $ 20,000 for Tayeb Salih’s personal use. However, he indicated his desire to utilize the money in launching a cultural initiative that supports literary life in Sudan. Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre's Board of Trustees established an independent secretariat to administer the Prize award and the associated activities. A committee of writers and academics in Sudan receives and evaluates the participating novels, and selects the winners. The winners are announced on 21 October of each year and the winning titles are published by Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre. The award of the Prize is usually accompanied by a conference on various aspects of Sudanese literature.

The first Prize was awarded in 2003.

In 2008, Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre launched another prize under the name Tayeb Salih Short Story Writing Prize for Youth.

Altayeb Salih Prize for Creative Writing[edit]

  • Yearly Award, started 2010 after his death located Khartoum, Zain Sudan (Mobile Company). This award is open to general public writers from all over the world .

The prize has, year by year, acquired more significant importance and worth with expansion of the domain of participation from all over nations of the world, besides the magnificent and distinctive organization of the conclusive works which are always attended by first vice-president of the republic of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha. However, board of trustees of the Prize has announced, this year, the launch of the third session whose conclusive events will be run during the coming February.

Bibliography (partial)[edit]


On July 12, 2017, Google Doodle commemorated Tayeb Salih's 88th birthday.[11]


  1. ^ "Tayeb Salih, 80, Cross-Cultural Arabic Novelist, Dies". The New York Times. 23 February 2009.
  2. ^ Ayyıldız, Esat (June 2018). "Et-Tayyib Sâlih'in "Mevsimu'l-Hicre İle'ş-Şemâl" Adlı Romanının Tahlili". DTCF Dergisi. 58.1: 662–689.
  3. ^ Mahjoub, Jamal (20 February 2009). "Obituary: Tayeb Salih". The Guardian. London.
  4. ^ "Tayeb Salih | New York Review Books". Nybooks.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Tayeb Saleh". Arabworldbooks.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b Ayyıldız, Esat (June 2018). "Et-Tayyib Sâlih'in "Mevsimu'l-Hicre İle'ş-Şemâl" Adlı Romanının Tahlili". DTCF Dergisi. 58.1: 662–689.
  7. ^ Lalami, L. "Book Review: After the Colonizers depart". NPR Books.
  8. ^ "REVIEW: The Wedding of Zein, by Tayeb Salih". The Boston Bibliophile. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  9. ^ "SKRyzzer Was Here". Akmcc.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  10. ^ "A handful of dates": English translation
  11. ^ "Tayeb Salih's 88th Birthday". Google.

External links[edit]