In my case what Leo Tolstoy said is even more true. I jokingly call myself ‘the first really Soviet writer.’ The Soviet reality, which I began to witness since going to nursery in a remote Central Asian village, then throughout my school time, followed by army service, university and working career, has always come across as a melting pot of all kinds of nationalities, beliefs and destinies: oftentimes displaced, misplaced or replaced. Yet, if you have ever read the Soviet fiction you would surely notice that Russians wrote exclusively about the Russians, Uzbeks dealt only with the Uzbeks, whilst Georgians described only the Georgians.
In my novels, The Railway, The Underground, and others, which have been translated into English, I describe that ‘real reality’ of the Soviet and post-Soviet life, where the Russians and Ukrainians, Latvians and Tajiks, Jews and Uzbeks, Chukchas and Gypsies, Koreans and Hakassians and many others were smashed together as if in some nuclear experiment to create a new breed of human-kind. The ongoing globalisation exhibits pretty much the same tendencies. So my reader is anyone seeking to find himself or herself in this ever-changing mix of cultures, traditions, beliefs, presumptions, clichés, stigmas and taboos…
–Hamid Ismailov (born 1954, Kyrgyzstan) is an Uzbek journalist and writer who was forced to flee Uzbekistan in 1992 and came to the United Kingdom, where he took a job with the BBC World Service. His works are banned in Uzbekistan. He published dozens of books in Uzbek, Russian, French, German, Turkish and other languages. His books include The Railway, The Dead Lake, A Poet and Bin-Laden and The Underground.
2paragraphs gives special thanks to Anderson Tepper for curating our International Writers Interviews. Mr. Tepper is on the staff of Vanity Fair and is a Contributing Editor at Words Without Borders.