The Devil's Dance by Hamid Ismailov

The Devil's Dance

Hamid Ismailov

This complicated story about both a famous, cruelly imprisoned Uzbek writer (1938) and the wife of a former Emir (19th C) asks for a curious and experienced reader. Full of innuendos, deeper meanings, parallels and numerous names and titles, mixed with old Uzbek poetry, it kept me on the top of my toes! And left me with a better understanding of a very unstable region. (I recommend starting with the afterword …)

‘Take a look,’ he said. Abdullah set his eye to the spyhole. In the middle of the cell – he couldn’t believe his eyes – was the mighty elder Jur’at, stroking his red beard; next to him was the squat, potbellied Muborak; listening to them were Kosoniy and Professor Zasypkin; while Laziz and the frail Mulla Shibirg’oniy staggered about in the background. In the centre of this devils’ dance was Abdullah’s best friend, the wretched poet Abdulhamid Cho’lpon, whose tear-filled eyes shone through the lenses of his spectacles. Or were these the wax figures Muborak had told him about? Abdullah bit his lips until they bled.

Leave now, Satan; I am afraid.
Go! My sword’s smashed, my shield holed.
Don’t you see? I am lying underneath
A mountain of troubles, crushed and cold?

Oh angel, one last breath, the last of all:
One last look, then may the skies fall!
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