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Sudan Novelist Tayeb Salih Dies

posted on: Feb 18, 2009

Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, who won fame with his 1966 novel Season of Migration to the North, has died in London, aged about 80.

One of the best-known Arabic novelists of the 20th Century, he spent much of his working life in Europe.

Salih was a broadcaster for the BBC Arabic Service and worked at the UN cultural organisation Unesco in Paris. He also worked in Qatar.

His works were translated into more than 20 languages.

The writer’s experience of the UK was central to Season of Migration to the North, which deals with colonialism and sexuality from the point of view of a Sudanese outsider.

The book was declared “the most important Arabic novel of the 20th Century” in 2001 by the Damascus-based Arab Literary Academy.

Dr Khaled Mubarak, who is the press officer at the Sudanese embassy in London, paid tribute to the writer, whom he knew personally, and his most famous book.

He said: “Long before the term ‘clash of civilisations’ became known, Tayeb Salih has written about co-existence of civilisations because in the end, his novel ends actually in a tone of possible co-existence, possible enrichment of the two civilisations and the idea that both can look forward to stronger relations in the future, so it was a very positive novel in this sense.”

Sudanese literary groups have long called for Salih to be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz is the only Arab writer ever to have won the prestigious prize, in 1988.

BBC World News