‘Sovietistan’

‘A Journey Through Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan’

The book by Erika Fatland was recently translated into English from Norwegian. In 2013 Erika travelled alone for eight months through the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia. A fluent Russian speaker, she gathered fascinating insights into local customs, history, politics and daily life after removal of the Soviet yoke. Her writing is informative, direct and unadorned. 

She roams far and wide across dramatic landscapes. 

“In Kyrgyzstan she meets victims of the widely known tradition of bride snatching; she visits the huge and desolate Polygon in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union tested explosions of nuclear bombs; she meets Chinese shrimp gatherers on the banks of the dried out Aral Sea and she witnesses the fall of a dictator. She travels incognito through Turkmenistan, a country that is closed to journalists. She meets exhausted human rights activists in Kazakhstan, survivors from the massacre in Osh in 2010, German Menonites that found paradise on the Kyrgyzstani plains 200 years ago. During her travels, she observes how ancient customs clash with gas production and she witnesses the underlying conflicts between ethnic Russians and the majority in a country that is slowly building its future in Nationalist colours”

(from a review by Harry Hartog, Bookseller).

Erika’s love affair with Samarkand and its eulogy is evocative and elegant. 

If you’re interested in these frontier countries then I recommend this travel-log as a vicarious voyage of discovery and memorable explainer.

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