Category: Kyrgyzstan

Hamid Ismailov: Manaschi

The latest addition to my website is Hamid Ismailov‘s Manaschi. This is another highly colourful book from Hamid Ismailov. The basis of the book is the Kyrgyz national epic Manas. (A manaschi is a reciter of the legend, which is primarily oral.) Baisal, a manaschi, has just died and his his foster-son Bekesh, returns to his village, now on the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border. Bekesh meets his nephew Dapan, who can also recite the Manas and Tumor, Baisal’s eagle. However, there is soon conflict, between the Islamists and those that favour the Manas legend. Things get worse when the Chinese move in to construct a road through the mountains. Some of the events are paralleled in the Manas legend (the Chinese were Manas’ main enemy). Gradually, the curse of the manaschis and the clash between the various sides gets out of hand. Hamid Ismailov is a wonderful story-teller and this book very much confirms that.

Chinghiz Aitmatov: Джамиля (Jamila; Jamilia)


The latest addition to my website is Chinghiz Aitmatov‘s Джамиля (Jamila; Jamilia). This is Aitmatov’s first published work and in reality not much more than a longish story. It is set in World War II when most of the adult men are away from the village, leaving the older men, the boys, the women and the injured men. The narrator, Seit, is a fifteen-year old boy and Jamilia is his sister-in-law, his half-brother’s wife. The pair have to drive grain to the central granary and are accompanied by Daniyar, an orphan who had been born in the village but had left, had served in the army and, when injured, had returned to the village of his birth. He is initially taciturn but, after hurting himself carrying a heavy bag of grain and then singing in a beautiful voice, he and Jamilia become much closer and are clearly falling in love. Seti is initially concerned but then supports the couple. It is a charming tale, well told by Aitmatov, and helped to make his name.

Chinghiz Aitmatov: И дольше века длится день (The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years)


The latest addition to my website is Chinghiz Aitmatov‘s И дольше века длится день (The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years). Interestingly enough I have two novels from Kyrgyzstan on my website and both have science fiction elements. This one mainly tells the story of Burannyi Yedigei, a man who had suffered from shell shock in World War II and had managed to find a job suitable for him, at a remote railway junction in Kazakhstan, where he is a signalman. His friend and mentor has just died and Buryanni is taking him to be buried at a cemetery some thirty kilometers away. During the journey, he reminisces about his past life, the people who have lived at the junction, a Kazakh legend and, of course, his own life and that of the dead man. Meanwhile, two cosmonauts from a joint Soviet-US mission have found a planet with intelligent life on it and have travelled to the planet (without permission) and this is now causing a quandary for the Soviet and US governments. The space station from which the rockets are launched to the intermediate space station is located just forty kilometers away from the village where Buryanni works and this will affect him.

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