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Thread: Book Club: Season of Migration to the North

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    Book Club: Season of Migration to the North

    As per my previous selection thread, it's about time to start talking about Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih. I think I have at least two other people on board for the grand opening. Hopefully, the results are so earth-shatteringly brilliant that others join in. As I said before, even if you haven't read the book (or read it a long time ago) don't be afraid to contribute relevant knowledge or social/political/cultural insights for the readers to ponder.

    I'll just get us started with a few basic questions / issues and then post a few of my own initial thoughts separately afterwards.

    If you're having trouble getting started, or have too many thoughts to organize clearly, I suggest making a simple list of ideas that caught your attention and trying to summarize some of them. Or, you can also start with something fairly concrete like:

    What did you learn from reading this text?
    Was it enjoyable to read? (Why / Why not?)
    Does it deserve to be on a greatest books of all time list?



    More specific issues that might be interesting to look at:

    Colonial / postcolonial realities
    Translation and language
    Identity formation
    Choice

  2. #2
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    I'll start by answering my own easy questions:

    What did you learn from reading this text?

    More than anything, I felt a kind of kinship with the narrator's dual identity. His experience abroad irrevocably changes him to a point where he doesn't quite fit in either place. In particular, the expectations that others have of him at home no longer make sense and his attempts to apply his new, hybrid worldview to his hometown consistently results in failure. As an expat kid, I experienced this first hand when I returned to my home country and a lot of the nuances of this were spot on in the Salih's writing. With that starting point, I think what interested me most was the application of that to the postcolonial experience. That same sense of irrevocable change and persistent disconnection from your social and historical context pervades this story and other postcolonial writing. Salih doesn't glorify traditions and try to turn back time but struggles to find a comfortable place for ideas / feelings / norms derived from traumatic experience with colonial powers. I still have to think about this a bit more. . . I might come back to it later.

    Was it enjoyable to read? (Why / Why not?)

    For sure. It had enough mystery to keep me perpetually curious about the plot development. It was never difficult to read, even with people talking on the subway.

    Does it deserve to be on a greatest books of all time list?

    Yeah, I think so, at least in the sense that postcolonial perspectives need a place on any such list and Salih certainly presents them well here in all their complexity.

    I'll leave it at that for now. Some more ideas still brewing. . .

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