Ali Salami

Tayib Salih: Bride of Desire: The Season of Migration to the North

Tayib Salih  was a Sudanese novelist and short-story writer whose works explore the intersections of traditional and modern life in Africa.

Tayib Salih is best known for Season of Migration to the North which is a counternarrative to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Salih’s writing draws important inspiration from his youth in a Sudanese village; life that is centered on rural people and their complex relationships. ”

At various levels and with varying degrees of psychoanalytic emphasis, he deals with themes of reality and illusion, the cultural dissonance between the West and the exotic Orient, the harmony and conflict of brotherhood, and the individual’s responsibility to find a fusion between his or her contradictions.”

Furthermore, the motifs of his books are derived from his religious experience as a Muslim in 20th-century Sudan, both pre- and post-colonial. Another, more general subject of Salih’s writing is the confrontation of the Arab Muslim and the Western European world.

Tayeb Salih


Most readings of Tayib Salih’s Season of Migration to the North have focused on Mustafa Saeed and the nameless narrator, both male characters, and they have largely avoided a politically radical reading of the novel.

This article attempts to present the female character, Hosna, as the revolutionary par excellence, following Lacan and Slavoj Žižek’s reading of Antigone.

The rough Žižek’s distinction between the act and action, this article argues that Hosna’s deed at the end of the novel, murder and suicide, is not just an action out of hopelessness but rather an act that aims to make a new social order possible.

We will try to connect Žižek’s distinction between act and action to Benjamin’s distinction between divine violence and mythic violence and Lacan’s idea of “Thing-directed desire” (Marc De Kesel 245).

By doing so, this article aims to put the extreme violence of Hosna in a new light and argues against the readings that simply ignore her act as an extreme form of violence and fail to see it in a broader framework of philosophical and sociological understanding.

By Ali Salami & Mohsen Maleki

Download the article here


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