Category: Tajikistan

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.

Sadriddin Aini: Марги судхур (Death of a Money Lender)

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The latest addition to my website is Sadriddin Aini‘s Марги судхур (Death of a Money Lender), the first Tajik novel on my website. It is an amusing novel but with a certain seriousness, telling the story of Kori-Ichkamba, a large man, who spends his time cajoling, cheating and avoiding paying for anything at all. He goes to funerals to get free meals, dashes out of shops without paying and, all too often, buys and eats food, only to find that he has “forgotten” to bring any money with him. He also lends money at extortionate rates and is, of course, happy to cheat his borrowers. However, while he initially does well when World War I starts, things start going badly and then, when the Russian Revolution comes, he will get his comeuppance.

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