Saturday, 23, March, 2019

The author of the Devils’ Dance Hamid Ismoilov, who was awarded the EBRD Literature Prize, refused to take questions from UzA news agency journalist Anora Sodiqova.

He explained his refusal by saying that two years ago, the Uzbek authorities expelled him from the airport without giving any grounds.

In 2017 he travelled to Uzbekistan as part of a UK delegation, he was included in the list submitted to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry, with the authorities not objecting to the writer’s visit at that time. However, when he landed in the Tashkent airport, he was not allowed to enter the country and was deported to Istanbul. He said he only wanted to visit his mother’s grave.

Now, Hamid Ismoilov is saying that he will not go to Uzbekistan unless the authorities bring official apology.

On March 11, at the meeting of the Uzbekistan Writers Council, Hamid Ismailov’s Devils’ Dance was criticized.

The Devil’s Dance is the first of his Uzbek novels published in the UK, and the first major Uzbek work to be translated directly into English. It provides a crash course in Uzbek literature, and the main character is the real-life prominent Uzbek writer Abdulla Qodiriy.

When Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, imprisoned Qodiriy in 1937, they destroyed the novel he was writing – about Oyxon, an alluring 19th-century slave girl forcibly married to three khans. But as NKVD interrogators tell Ismailov’s Qodiriy in The Devils’ Dance, “nothing in this world disappears without trace”. Ismailov reimagines Qodiriy’s lost novel, recreating Oyxon and her brutal husbands. He interweaves these fragments with details of Qodiriy’s life and with verses, fables, anecdotes and letters, some taken from real life, told and read by 1930s political prisoners and by poets trapped in harems.

In the early 1990s, Hamid Ismailov worked with the BBC television team on a documentary film about Uzbekistan. However, the government commission labeled the film as "inconsistent with cultural trends." In 1992, Ismailov fled Uzbekistan for the UK, and now is the chief of the BBC Central Asian Service. Among his other prominent works are the novels such as The Dead Lake and The Railway. 

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