Underappreciated: Sudanese Author Tayeb Salih

Monday, July 21, 2008

We kick off our annual summer Underappreciated literature series with a look at the work of Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih. In 1967, Salih wrote a cornerstone of contemporary Arabic literature, Season of Migration to the North, a complex novel about a man who returns to the Sudan after finishing his education in England. Columbia University professor Bruce Robbins explains why Salih deserves more widespread recognition in the United States.


Bruce Robbins

Comments [5]

ernie brill

I am so excited to be in this show because I have spent most of my life championing underrated writers. I will make a quick list and more later, and, when I have more time, write up a description of some of the novels, short story collections ,and poetry collections.
For anyone interested in Middle East literature,
let me mention the following:
Ghassan Kanafani is the author of three collections of short stories: Men In The Sun,
Palestine's Children, and All That's Left To You.
Palestine's Children is astonishing and a real eyeopener about lives in Palestine.
Sadder Than Water- Samih Al -Qasim. The first book of poems translated into English by an outstanding master of the short poem, and the long epic poem "The Tragedy of Houdini",
a symbolic parable poem.
Saeed The Pessoptimist and Sanaya The Ogre's Daughter by Emile Habibby. A satire, and a fairytale.
Two very underrated American writers are Tom Kromer -Waiting For Nothing ( one of the greatest novels about the Great American Depression), and
Yokahama, California by Toshio Mori (also author of The Chauvinist and Other Stories).
Wonderfully poignant stories about the lives of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s.
The Dreamer by Charles Johnson. a novel about Dr. King's double in Chicago. Remarkable.
Dr. KIng's Refrigerator and Other Bedtime Stories- elegance and hilarity accompany a profoundlyl peaceful world view.
The Work of Common Woman- Judy Grahn. One of the finest American poetry collections of the last quarter of the t wentieth century.

Jan. 09 2011 04:37 PM
Peter from Queens

I heartily second the comment by Cynthia about the availability of books at public libraries. On the show, Leonard said that only two of Salih's books have been translated into English, but in fact there is a third, called Bandarshah (1996 trans.), which is listed at Amazon, but out of print of course... Yet, there is a copy in the Queens Public Library! Also, most public libraries offer a request/search service to locate books in libraries across the country; I've used this service with much success, even for hard-to-find books!

Jul. 22 2008 10:36 AM
Cynthia from Manhattan

You always mention where listeners can buy books, but you fail to mention they can get them at the library. I have read dozens of books the past few months, all of which I have heard about on NPR and all of which were available from the library. These have been old books, such as "Season of Migration to the North" which you talked about today, as well as the newest books, such as "Standard Operating Procedure" and "Say You're One of Them". In these times of tightening budgets, it's important for people to use the public libraries to keep them open and functioning. Please mention this the next time you talk about any books. Thank you.

Jul. 21 2008 01:04 PM
Katie from Manhattan

Doesn't this character just fall into the terrible stereotype of the black sexual predator? It doesn't seem very innovative / gripping to me. It sounds like a damaging cliche.

Jul. 21 2008 12:47 PM
Jacquelyn from New York

Hello there. Three cheers to the wonderful Underappreciated series.

I just wanted to mention that New York Review Books (NYRB Classics) is reissuing Season of Migration to the North in April of next year.

Jul. 21 2008 12:45 PM

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