Of life, Kyrgyzstan and more – Short Novels by Chingiz Aitmatov

In three simple heartfelt stories author Chinghiz Aitmatov reveals a lot about Kyrgyzstan, its beautiful landscape, the people, and life in a commune.

Short Novels
Chinghiz Aitmatov

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Author Chinghiz Aitmatov occupies a seminal position in Kyrgyzstan’s literature. It was thanks to a friend that I got to read this book (and that’s the case with most of the books I get to read).

The book contained three short novels by Aitmatov: To Have And To Lose, Duishen and Mother Earth.

To Have And To Lose is about a man ruing the loss of the love of his life and his child. A massive ego and sheer neglect of his wife led to such a state and as he loses her to another man he recounts the joys, sorrows and disappointments along the way.

Duishen is about an upright teacher who is now remembered by none except one of his pupils whose life he touched in more ways than one. It emphasises how even a simple village school teacher (with no more than primary education) can trigger changes that last for decades, and though unsung, can mould people and change the fates of his students.

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Mother Earth is an earnest conversation between a mother, who has lost her sons and husband to war, with mother earth. The futility of war, the problems faced by women and children who are left behind to cope with such events is described beautifully. Mother earth’s reply that she never wanted her children to fight among themselves and that she has given enough for everyone to live happily, is also poignant.

All in all, the stories are simple, heartfelt and reveal a lot about the country, the beautiful landscape, the people, and life in a commune. Though the stories were written several decades ago, they have a certain charm and talk of universal emotions which make them relevant even today.

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