Libri dall’Uzbekistan

Moschea Shakh-i Zindeh, Samarcanda

Hamid Ismailov, The Railway, Vintage: A vibrant, multi-cultural and surreal satire set in Uzbekistan in the mid-twentieth century.
‘In the steppe near Tashkent they came upon a never-ending ladder with wooden rungs and iron rails and that stretched across the earth from horizon to horizon . Whistling and thundering, a snake-like wonder hurtled past them, packed both on the inside and on top with infidels shouting and waving their hands. ‘The End of the World!’ thought both Mahmud-Hodja the Sunni and Djebral the Shiite.’
Set mainly in Uzbekistan between 1900 and 1980, The Railway introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas on the ancient Silk Route. Among those whose stories we hear are Mefody-Jurisprudence, the town’s alcoholic intellectual; Father Ioann, a Russian priest; Kara-Musayev the Younger, the chief of police; and Umarali-Moneybags, the old moneylender. Their colourful lives offer a unique and comic picture of a little-known land populated by outgoing Mullahs, incoming Bolsheviks, and a plethora of Uzbeks, Russians, Persians, Jews, Koreans, Tatars and Gypsies.
At the heart of both the town and the novel stands the railway station – a source of income and influence, and a connection to the greater world beyond the town. Rich and picaresque, The Railway is full of colour. Sophisticated yet with a naive delight in storytelling, it chronicles the dramatic changes felt throughout Central Asia in the early twentieth century.
La mia recensione: https://sonnenbarke.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/hamid-ismailov-the-railway-uzbekistan/

Hamid Ismailov, The Dead Lake, Peirene: A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Kazakhstan where the Soviets tests atomic weapons. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour’s daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radioactive water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.
Un estratto: http://www.peirenepress.com/books/coming_of_age/peirene_no_13/reading_sample

Hamid Ismailov, A Poet and Bin-Laden, Glagoslav: A Poet and Bin-Laden is a novel set in Central Asia at the turn of the 21st  century against a swirling backdrop of Islamic fundamentalism in the Ferghana Valley and beyond.
The story begins on the eve of 9/11, with the narrator’s haunting description of the airplane attack on the Twin Towers as seen on TV while he is on holiday in Central Asia. Subsequent chapters shift backwards and forwards in time, but two main themes emerge: the rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan under the charismatic but reclusive leadership of Tahir Yuldash and Juma Namangani; and the main character, poet Belgi’s movement from the outer edge of the circle, from the mountains of Osh, into the inner sanctum of al-Qaeda, and ultimately to a meeting with Sheikh bin Laden himself.
His journey begins with a search for a Sufi spiritual master and ends in guerrilla warfare, and it is this tension between a transcendental and a violent response to oppression, between the book and the bomb, that gives the novel its specific poignancy. Along the way, Ismailov provides wonderfully vivid accounts of historical events (as witnessed by Belgi) such as the siege of Kunduz, the breakout from Shebergan prison – a kind of Afghan Guantanamo – and the insurgency in the Ferghana Valley.
L’anteprima del libro: http://www.glagoslav.com/en/Book/40/A-Poet-and-Bin-Laden.html#excerpt

Hamid Ismailov, The Underground, Restless Books: “I am Moscow’s underground son, the result of one too many nights on the town,” says Mbobo, the precocious 12-year-old narrator of Uzbek master Hamid Ismailov’s novel, The Underground. Born from a Siberian woman and an African athlete who came to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Mbobo navigates the complexities of being a fatherless, mixed-raced boy in the shaky terrain of the Soviet Union in the years before its collapse. Named one of the “ten best Russian novels of the 21st Century,” (Continent Magazine), The Underground is exiled Uzbek author and BBC journalist Hamid Ismailov’s haunting and moving tour of the Soviet capital, on the surface and beneath, in the years before the fall. Though deeply engaged with great Russian authors of the past—Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Gorky, Nabokov, and, above all, Pushkin—Ismailov is an emerging master of a new kind of Russian writing that revels in the sordid reality and diverse composition of the country today.

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