Biography of Tayeb Salih

Tayeb Salih was a Sudanese author and journalist. He is remembered as a prominent figure in the postcolonial literary movement.

Born in rural Karmakol, in northern Sudan, Salih studied at the University of Khartoum and the University of London. Salih wrote a column for London-based Arabic language newspaper al Majalla and later took a job at the BBC's Arabic Service. He later worked in a variety of diplomatic positions, including as the director-general of the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar, and as representative to the Gulf States for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

After years of success as a diplomat and education advocate, in 1966 Salih published the novel Season of Migration to the North, which concerned the impact of British colonialism on modern Sudanese identity and culture. The novel won immediate accolades from critics worldwide, and it remains his most famous book, alongside the novella The Wedding of Zein.

Despite critical acclaim, most of Salih's work remains untranslated. His collected works, which include political essays, travel writing, and book reviews, are popular and widely available in Arabic. Salih remained a controversial figure into his old age, publishing an essay in 1990 that was sharply critical of the Islamist regime in charge of Sudan at the time.


Study Guides on Works by Tayeb Salih

Originally published in Arabic in 1964, Tayeb Salih's short story "A Handful of Dates" is about a young Sudanese boy whose loyalty to his grandfather is tested when his grandfather delights in their neighbor's financial ruin. After learning the...