Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the birthday of Tayeb Salih, the late Sudanese writer.
Salih shot to fame with his critically acclaimed novel Season of Migration to the North, written in 1966. The book, now a classic, made him one of the top Arab World novelists of the 20th century, dubbed the "genius of the modern Arab novel" by critics.
Following the novel's publication in Lebanon in 2001, the Arab Literary Academy in Damascus declared it "the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century".
It was also voted among the "100 Greatest Books in History" by authors from 54 nations in a writers’ poll, conducted in 2002.
Salih's subjects are always rooted in his hometown, Karmakal, close to Al-Dabbah in northern Sudan, and are centered on the communal rural life and the complex relationships of people there.
His works, which were translated into more than 20 languages, include Urs Al-Zayn (The Wedding of Zayn), a comic short-story collection (The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid, 1985), A Handful of Dates, also a short story collection, and Al-Ragul Al-Qubrosi (The Cypriot Man, 1978).
The Wedding of Zayn was adapted into a Kuwaiti film directed by Khalid Alsiddig. It was screened at Cannes, and was selected as the Kuwaiti entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 51st Academy Awards, although it was not accepted as a nominee.
Born into a family of farmers and religious teachers, Salih attended quranic school and later completed his schooling at Gordon College, Khartoum, where he then worked as a teacher. Afterwards, he went to England and enrolled at the University of London.
Salih was introduced to literature while working at Al-Majalla, an Arabic magazine in London, for which he wrote a weekly column.
He was appointed director general of the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar, and then became UNESCO’s representative in the Gulf States for the last 10 years of his career.
He launched the Yearly Award, in association with Abdelkarim Mirghani Cultural Centre, Omdurman, in 1998, with one writer honoured each year for their novel writing. The first prize was awarded in 2003.
Salih died on 18 February in 2009 in London, after suffering from a kidney failure. He was buried in Sudan.
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