There is a reading in English of The Railway by Hamid Ismailov at Queen Mary College on 8th March
THE RAILWAY – AN INTRODUCTORY READING
Hamid Ismailov¹s novel, The Railway, translated from Russian by Robert Chandler, will be published by Harvill Secker in March 2006.
"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. ŒThe End of the World!¹ thought both Mahmud-Hodja the Sunni and Djebral the Shiite."
Set between 1900 and 1980, The Railway introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas in Uzbekistan. Among those whose stories we hear are Mefody-Jurisprudence, the town¹s 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 picture of a land populated by outgoing Mullahs, incoming Bolsheviks, and a plethora of Uzbeks, Russians, Persians, Jews, Koreans, Tatars and Gypsies. 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 early twentieth century.
Hamid Ismailov was forced to flee his homeland. He came to London in 1994 and is now head of the BBC Central Asia Service. He has published many books in Russia and Uzbekistan. The Railway is his first novel to be translated into English. Robert Chandler¹s Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida is published by Penguin Classics and his co-translations of Andrey Platonov have won several prizes.
March 8, 2006, 5.30 pm: reading and talk with Robert Chandler & Hamid Ismailov; food and wine. Admission free. St Benet¹s Chapel, Queen Mary College, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS (Mile End tube).