February 18, 2009 / 11:24 AM / 10 years ago

Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih dies in London

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, who won fame with his 1966 novel Season of Migration to the North, died in London Wednesday, a friend and associate said.

Salih, who was born in northern Sudan in 1929, died around dawn, Ezzat el-Kamhawy, editor of the Egyptian literary publication Akhbar al-Adab, told Reuters.

Salih, one of the best known and most translated Arabic novelists of the 20th century, studied in Britain and spent much of his working life in Europe.

He was a broadcaster for the BBC Arabic Service and worked at the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris. He also worked in Qatar.

He died from complications related to a kidney condition, the online version of the independent Sudan Tribune newspaper added, quoting a close friend.

Salih’s experience of Britain was central to Season of Migration to the North, which deals with colonialism and sexuality from the point of view of a Sudanese outsider.

In 2001 the Damascus-based Arab Literary Academy declared the book “the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century.”

Egyptian novelist Ezzedin Choukri-Fishere said: “Salih wrote few novels but they constituted a landmark in Arabic literature. He contributed to the founding of the novel in the Arab world.”

Hagag Oddoul, an award-winning Egyptian Nubian novelist, said Salih’s death made for “a day of deep sadness.”

“Tayeb ... helped bring the culture of the Nile and its villages to the international reader. He along with several writers from southern Africa helped Africa with its pains and hopes reach the world through literature,” he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Alaa Shahine)

Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Myra MacDonald

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