Saturday, 25 August 2012


Pushed by the Croydon Waterstones book group I have just finished Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov. Set out on the Steppe during the second world war, it is a beautiful poetic love story. What is striking is what it does not talk about.

I believe it was originally published in the mid 50's. If a modern western writer was writing this story it would be difficult not to write about Communism, the collective farms, Stalin. Of course a writer in the CCCP at the time could not do this and hope to get published (or live?!). So the story has a fascinatingly different texture. In a wonderfully economic style Aitmatov maps the power structures in village and family life, how it tries to cope with the young me away at the war.

I feel I have been taken to a  world a millions miles from my own, but one where all the normal human rules apply.