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Two chapters were published in the Beirut magazine Ḥiwār:
Al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ, عرس الزين [Urs' al-Zayn], Ḥiwār 10, (1964): 40–51.
The entire novel was published in the Sudanese journal Al-Khartum, 30 Dec. 1966, 97–137.
As the book it was first published in Beirut:
Al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ, عرس الزين [Urs' al-Zayn], Beirut: Dār al-’Awda, 1967.
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaounde I, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Divine Che Neba, University of Yaounde 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel A. Nkemleke, University of Yaounde 1, email@example.com
Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
, 1929 - 2009
Tayeb Salih (Ṣāliḥ, al-Ṭayyib; الطيب صالح), an acclaimed writer and broadcaster, was born in Karmakol, near Al Debba in northern Sudan and educated at Gordon Memorial College (later known as the University of Khartoum) and at the University of London. After working briefly as a teacher, he moved to London to work for the BBC Arabic Service as head of Drama, and as a columnist for the London Arabic newspaper Al Majalla. Salih later worked as director general at the Ministry of Information in Doha, Qatar, in the Arabian Gulf, and then at UNESCO in Paris and as that organization’s representative in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Besides The Wedding of Zein, his works translated into English and more than 30 other languages, include Season of Migration to the North (1966) and Bandarshah I (1971) and Bandarshah II (1976). In 2001, Season of Migration to the North was proclaimed as the most important Arabic novel of the 20th century by Damascus-based Arab Literary Academy, and was voted among the 100 greatest books in history. Most of his works centre on communal rural life in his hometown, which is a reflection of his humble background. He spent most of his life outside of his native Sudan, settling in London with his Scottish wife Julia Maclean and their three daughters. He died on February 18, 2009.
thefamouspeople.com, (accessed August 4, 2021).
Flood, Alison, “Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih dies aged 80”, The Guardian, Feb. 19, 2009 (accessed: August 4, 2021).
Bio prepared by Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaounde I, email@example.com
The story was adapted into a Kuwaiti movie in 1976, which won a prize at the Cannes film festival in the same year.
عرس الزين [Urs Al-Zayn (The Wedding of Zein)], directed by: Khalid Al Siddiq, Kuwait, 1976, 90 min.
Tayeb Salih, The Wedding of Zein and Other Stories, ill. by Ibrahim Salahi, London: Heinemann, 1968, 120 pp.
The story opens with news of Zein’s wedding that comes as a surprise to everyone; the villagers all marvel at how an ugly person like Zein, who has only two remaining teeth, could marry the village belle Ni’ma.
Through a flashback, Zein’s childhood is exposed. Immediately after his birth, it is said, the infant Zein did not cry as every child is expected to do at birth, but burst out into laughter, and lost almost all his teeth at the age of six. He had a strange natural charm to attract beautiful young girls in the village with whom he fell in love and they in turn fell in love with him. Once Zein sings their praises, other suitors come their way and marry them. This ability of his caused most parents to invite him - the village fool - over with expectation that he falls in love with their daughters and attracts eligible young men for them. Thus, these incessant heartbreaks leave Zein moody at times, but not sad.
The next part of the story presents to us another facet of Zein; besides being an ugly young man with a mysterious ability and ferocious appetite, Zein is known by many in the village for his hospitality and amicability. One night, Zein is injured and is hospitalised for two weeks. Once he is back home, the villagers think that the injury has reshaped him and has made him less ugly, since his missing teeth have been replaced.
The story proceeds to expose Zein’s fight with Seif ad-Din, a man who has a bad reputation in the village. During an attack on Zein by Seif ad-Din, Haneen, a holy man, suddenly appears on the scene and stops the fight by blessing Zein, Seif ad-Din, and the entire village. The following year, known as Haneen’s year, the villagers experience a ripple of miracles and surprises. One of which is Zein’s wedding to the intelligent and pious belle, Ni’ma.
Love has always been at the very core of human relationships and interactions; sometimes born from sheer animosity or attraction. It is either ephemeral or long-lasting as in marriage. Many world mythologies have cases of gods associated with love and marriage. The Wedding of Zein depicts a scenario of fantastic attraction in which the village buffoon, Zein, secures for himself the village belle, Ni’ma. Zein’s simplicity, decency and politeness, attracts the attention of everyone in the village, especially the maidens. It can be said of him that his teeth are taken away and replaced with these positive traits. Zein, a man of low birth, succeeds in marrying a very beautiful maiden, an action which brings euphoria to the community. Apart from that, he is considered a bringer of good omen when it comes to marriages.
In all, the story celebrates love, marriage, happiness, beauty from within and even life as a whole with Zein at the core of all these. Zein’s ability to attract love and happiness from almost every member of the society shows that physical appearance or handicap is not a barrier to love and happiness.
Chaabane, Bechir, “A carnivalistic reading of The Wedding of Zein by Taib Salih, The Journal of North African Studies”, The Journal of North African Studies (2020) (accessed: August 4, 2021).
De Wail, Hassan S., Tayeb Salih: Ideology and the Craft of Fiction, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2003.
Harrow, Kenneth W., “The Power and the Word: L'Aventure Ambiguë and the Wedding of Zein”, African Studies Review 30.1 (1987): 63–77.
Sells, Michael Anthony, “The Wedding of Zein: Islam through the Modern Novel” in Brannon M. Wheeler, ed., Teaching Islam, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, 145–167.
The entry is based on: Tayeb Salih, The Wedding of Zein & Other Stories. Translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies. (New York Review Books Classics Series). New York: NYRB, 2010. 144 p.