They are dying by the day. First, there was Edward Said, then Mahmoud Darwish, and now Tayeb Salih.
If Said sang about the pleasures of the “placeless place,” Darwish wrote like a jealous child unwilling to share the page with any one, a ruthless occupier in particular. Salih, on the other hand, spent most of his life on borderline between East, West, and the Rest. As a thinker, citizen, and writer, he towered quietly over our time with extraordinary luminosity. He also had a prodigious capacity for understanding people no matter where they came from.
A sign well defined in his chef-d’oeuvre, Season of Migration to the North, where the narrator intones: “The [the Sudanese people] were amazed to learn that Europeans with some differences were much like us, marrying and raising children in accordance with tradition and that generally they were a moral and honest people.” A humanist voice at its best! This is not the nonsense one finds in shabby screeds likes the “clash of cultures” or “what went wrong?” Read More