R.I.P. Tayeb Salih

SalihI was terribly saddened to hear that the great Sudanese novelist, short story writer and literary critic Tayeb Salih passed away in London yesterday. He was eighty years old. A few months ago, when I was preparing my introduction to the new edition of Season of Migration to the North, I had considered going to London to interview him. But then life intervened: I was busy and thought I might be able to meet him some other time. That time never came. He published only a handful of novels, but each had the beauty and complexity of dozens of literary works.

The BBC announced the news on Tuesday morning and included a short audio remembrance by Khaled Mubarak, a friend and colleague and Salih’s.  There is quite a bit of coverage in the Arabic press, of course. (See, for instance, Al-Hayat, Ad-Dustour, or Elaph.) In Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Talha Jibril reveals that Salih’s body will be interred in Omdurman, in the Sudan, on Friday of this week.

Salih’s work is available in English thanks to translations by Denys Johnson-Davies:  Season of Migration to the North, The Wedding of Zein, and Bandarshah.  If you have never read him, I envy you your first experience.