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The Railway

Hamid Ismailov

Editeur - Casa editrice

Harvill Secker

Asia Centrale

Anno - Date de Parution


Pagine - Pages


Titolo originale

The Railway

Lingua originale

Lingua - language - langue



Robert Chandler

The Railway  

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.



Hamid Ismailov

Hamid Ismailov è nato nel 1954. Cresciuto in Uzbekistan, ha abbandonato il paese nei primi anni novanta a causa delle persecuzioni del regime, riparando nel Regno Unito. Scrive prevalentemente in russo e in uzbeko. Per venticinque anni ha lavorato come giornalista della BBC.
Traduttore e mediatore culturale, ha curato la resa in uzbeko di molti classici della letteratura occidentale e, nel contempo, la traduzione in inglese e in altre lingue europee di alcuni classici della letteratura uzbeka. Si è inoltre dedicato alla poesia sonora, sperimentando contaminazioni tra la parola, la musica e l’arte figurativa.
Le sue opere, bandite in Uzbekistan, sono state tradotte in molte lingue, riscuotendo il plauso della critica. In Italia sono in corso di traduzione, dal russo e dall’uzbeko, nel catalogo di Utopia.

Born in an ancient city in what is now Kyrgyzstan, Hamid Ismailov is an Uzbek novelist and poet who was forced to leave his home in Tashkent when his writing brought him to the attention of government officials. Under threat of arrest, he moved to London and joined the BBC World Service, where he is now Head of the Central Asian Service. He was the BBC World Service first Writer in Residence.
In addition to journalism, Ismailov is a prolific writer of poetry and prose, and his books have been published in Uzbek, Russian, French, German, Turkish, English and other languages. His work is still banned in Uzbekistan. He is the author of many novels, including Sobranie Utonchyonnyh, Le Vagabond Flamboyant, Two Lost to Life, The Railway, Hostage to Celestial Turks, Googling for Soul, The Underground, A Poet and Bin-Laden, and The Dead Lake; poetry collections including Sad (Garden) and Pustynya (Desert); and books of visual poetry including Post Faustum and Kniga Otsutstvi. He has translated Russian and Western classics into Uzbek, and Uzbek and Persian classics into Russian and several Western languages.
Hamid Ismailov was born into a deeply religious Uzbek family of Mullahs and Khodjas living in Kyrgyzstan, many of whom had lost their lives during the Stalin era persecution. Yet he had received an exemplary Soviet education, graduating with distinction from both his secondary school and military college, as well as attaining university degrees in a number of disciplines. Though he could have become a high-flying Soviet or post-Soviet apparatchik, instead his fate led him to become a dissident writer and poet residing in the West. Critics have compared his books to the best of Russian classics, Sufi parables and works of Western postmodernism. While his writing reflects all of these and many other strands, it is his unique intercultural experience that excites and draws the reader into his world-