The Railway by Hamid Ismailov
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. â€˜The End of the World!â€™ thought both Mahmud-Hodja the Sunni and Djebral the Shiite.
Set in Uzbekistan between 1900 and 1980, The Railway introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas on the ancient Silk Route.
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, Tartars and Gypsies.
Rich and picaresque, The Railway is full of colour. Fusing literary sophistication with a naive delight in storytelling, it chronicles the dramatic changes felt throughout Central Asia in the twentieth century.
Hamid Ismailov, regarded as having â€˜unacceptably democratic tendenciesâ€™ in Uzbekistan, was forced to flee his homeland. He came to London in 1994 and is now head of the BBC Central Asia Service. The Railway is his first novel to be translated into English. Robert Chandlerâ€™s Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida was published in 2005 by Penguin Classics and his co-translations of Andrey Platonov have won several prizes.
For our London readers: There will be a public reading from the book.
St Benet’s Chaplaincy, Queen Mary College, Mile End Road,
March 8, 2006 at 5.15 for 5.30. Refreshments after the reading.
To book, please email email@example.com
Another book that one can recommend in connection to The Railway is Aitmatov’s timeless classic The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years (Ð˜ Ð´Ð¾Ð»ÑŒÑˆÐµ Ð²ÐµÐºÐ° Ð´Ð»Ð¸Ñ‚Ñ?Ñ? Ð´ÐµÐ½ÑŒ).