Tayeb Salih, 1929-2009

Salih The author of many novels, including the brilliant and disturbing Season of Migration to the North, is dead. In the BBC:

Anwar Hamed, the acclaimed author's former BBC Arabic Service colleague, says he bestrode the world of Arabic literature like a colossus.

“Literary critics of all schools agree that Tayeb Salih conquered the world just as Mustafa Said, the hero of his novel, The Season of Migration to the North, conquered the streets, bars and academic institutions of Europe.Yet he did not leave behind the stereotypical image of Sudan, his was a wondrous desert world haunted by mysteries, secrets and romantic tales.”

Salih's characters, immersed in local colour, were able to speak a language easily understood by his readers even those who could not get to grips with the rural Sudanese expressions he used.

In The Wedding of Zein and Dumat Wad Hamed, Salih conveys the atmosphere of a Sudanese village with such vitality that the characters seem like three dimensional people.

In the Season of Migration to the North, he deliberately focuses on the contradictions innate in the social and moral convictions held by his society.

In all his works, Salih's unique talent for building characters, weaving the background against which they live and revealing their social origins shines through the dialogue that reverberates with life, even when it is immersed in local details.