Perhat Tursun: Chong shähär (The Backstreets)

The latest addition to my website is Perhat Tursun‘s Chong shähär (The Backstreets). Perhat Turson is probably the foremost Uighur author but sadly has been imprisoned by the Chinese for sixteen years. This is his first book in English and a very fine one it is. It tells of one night in the life of the unnamed narrator. He has arrived from his village to take up an office job in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang. It is a menial job and he is working primarily with Han Chinese who mock and abuse him.No lodgings come with the job. He had tried sleeping in the office but was thrown out. He is now looking for a specific building where there might be lodgings but he does not know his way around the city and it is very foggy. As he searches we learn of his life and how much an outsider he is, even in his own country. The Han Chinese ignore, avoid him, refuse to help and even physically attack him. All the while we follow his thoughts about his life and his struggles. This is a superb novel in the outsider genre and made the more interesting for being a rare Uighur novel.

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