A postcolonial analysis of a fictional work will address the social and political context of the work as well as focus on characters and plot. Tayeb Salih’s 1966 novel Season of Migration to the North is notable in part for the time period and geographical setting in which the author locates the characters. Postcolonial analysis of this work could focus on alienation as the inevitable consequence of British colonial domination.
One fundamental aspect of postcolonialism is a critical perspective on the colonialism and imperialism as the dominant systems in much of the world through the mid-twentieth century. In this regard, Salih’s novel is postcolonial in its emphasis on the multiple and often contradictory effects of independence rather than presenting the removal of an oppressive foreign government as a straightforward solution to the ex-colony’s problems. Analyzing the novel should take into consideration how the author combines attention to the practical problems of creating the new nation and the psychological impact on the formerly colonized peoples.
In this novel, the characters of Mustafa and the narrator stand out for encapsulating the alienation of the men of two generation. The paradox of their experiences is revealed in Mustafa’s opinion that “he was a lie,” confirmed by the narrator. Having been singled out as suitable for a European education had proved to an ambiguous privilege: Mustafa had been expected to support the colonial apparatus that had contributed to his training. That allegiance required him to reject many elements of his own heritage, which proved impossible. One could analyze similarities and differences with the narrator in the newly independent nation, such as whether the advantages of European training have largely become liabilities.