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In Season of Migration to the North, Tayeb Salih creates characters that narrate experiences that may or may not be entirely real to show his readers the relationship between ideas or things on different ends of the spectrum. This can be summed up in Mustafa Sa’eed’s “book”, “My Life Story,” which was dedicated “To those who see things as either black or white, either Eastern or Western.” Interestingly, the rest of the book was blank. I think many of the statements made in Season of Migration to the North can be reflected upon this.

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Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

First, just as the empty autobiography was dedicated to people who categorize things binarily, the book addresses several juxtaposed, contrasting ideas: “black or white,” “Eastern or Western,” man or woman, innocent or guilty, love or hatred, intellect or fun, colonizer or colonized, Sudan or England. I can’t cover all of these in just one paper, but I’d like to explore the roles of love and hatred in this book. On page 111, upon learning of Husna’s death, the narrator says, “The world has turned suddenly upside down. Love? Love does not do this. This is hatred. I feel hatred and seek revenge; my adversary is within and I must confront him.” Then, just a few pages later, on 125, he reads what Mustafa wrote in his notes, perhaps about Jean Morris: “It was not hatred. It was a love unable to express itself. I loved her in a twisted manner. …

This is the second book I read by Naguib Mahfouz and I must say, it’s definitely my favorite out of all the books I’ve read that were translated from Arabic. Although it’s relatively short, it’s really profound: instead of focusing on minute details, it delivers the message through short, concise dialogue and clear descriptions of Ibn Fattouma’s experiences.

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The Journey of Ibn Fattouma by Naguib Mahfouz

Ibn Fattouma, upset with his life in his homeland, decides to go on a journey in search of the nearly mythical land of Jabal. He leaves with two clear yet contradicting prejudices: 1, his homeland, being the land of Islam must be superior to all other lands except for the Land of Jabal, and 2, it is his role to travel and be educated so he can return and enlighten his own people. …


Ayah A.

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