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“Novellasia” finalist: “When I write – I feel that I am alive”

Five Central Asian writers became the best authors of the “Novellasia” competition. Works of the winners will be published soon in English and Russian languages on our website. And for now we offer you to get acquainted with each of the finalists!

Central Asian countries which became finalists are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The winners of “Novellasia” Kanat Omar, Safar Kattaboyev, Seed Yanyshev, Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov and Tolibshohi Davlat told me about themselves, their personal life, creativity and place of literature in their heart.

The first finalist, to whom I talked for an interview, is a resident of Tashkent Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov, who is writing under the pseudonym Muhammad Sharif. He was born on December 10, 1968 in Gurmiron village, Kasansay district of Uzbekistan, on the border with Kyrgyzstan. His unusual name was given to the future writer by his grandfather. Now Muhammadsharif lives in Tashkent and is happily married to his wife, with whom they have adult son and daughter. As acknowledged by the author, the stark contrast of rural and urban life had a great influence on the character and lifestyle of the writer.

“Moving to Tashkent, I took from village life a love of birds and the bright colors of green grass and trees. But the city gave me addiction to coffee and sweets. This addiction is so strong that it became the subject of constant jokes and anecdotes by my friends”, – Mamatkulov says.

Photo from personal archive

Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov is a journalist by profession. He graduated from the journalism faculty of Tashkent State University and then served in the Soviet Army in 1986-88, which also was reflected in the works of the author. For the last 15 years Mamatkulov has worked in various international news media. In 2004, he received an offer to work in the France-Press Agency, and since then he has been a correspondent of this agency in Uzbekistan.

“But all this time I paid much attention to the “writing craft”. Today I have more than 20 short stories and three novels in my archive. Many of them have been published in several magazines and newspapers in Uzbekistan”.

But the love of writing and literature began even in early childhood.

According to Muhammadsharif, as a child he did not like physical labor. Even though life in the village forced him to be engaged in farming and household chores, Muhammadsharif still found precious time for solitude with books and magazines.

“The life of any child in kishlak is a daily from dawn to dusk work in the garden, in the field, keeping of domestic animals. Oh, it was so unbearable for me! Swimming and fishing in the river Kasansay were saving me. And as in the life of any boy, who was looking for refuge from everyday life, I had my attic. It was in the attic, where I fell in love with reading. I am thankful to my father, who kept all the issues of “Fan va turumush” magazine (“Science and Life”), since the 60-s of the last century. All of these magazines were hanging in the attic, and I read them from cover to cover. Although there were lots of boring and uninteresting materials in them, the last pages always had fiction and adventure stories. It was a real literary treasure for a child”, – remembers Mamatkulov.

Read information fired the future writer, and in order not to keep overflowing emotions to himself, he began to retell the stories to his friends. Then they began to ask him to tell much and more. After that Mamatkulov started to retell stories that have happened to him and his friends in real life.

“My friends liked it, I liked it. Inspired by this success among my audience, I decided – why not become a writer?

And now this necessity to write is already in my blood. When I don’t write, I feel an urgent need, even a pain that doesn’t allow me to sleep. And here I sit at the table, start writing… and the pain recedes. Only then I feel myself fine, I feel that I am really alive”, – Muhammadsharif Mamatkulov says.

As the author says, he finds inspiration in people, events, different moments in life, and in everything that leaves an indelible impression. Answering the question about future plans, Muhammadsharif said that he undoubtedly wouldn’t refuse the prospect to win a million dollars in the lottery. But then immediately says that if seriously, he will continue to work hard to ensure that his children have a decent education. And besides, the financial stability will allow him to do his favorite thing – literature without any restrictions, the writer says.

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