This work by Durnyam Mashurova, a leading author, poet, and lyricist of Kazakhstan’s Uighur people, is a moving roman a clef about the lives of women in the minority populations of the Soviet Union. Her protagonist experiences such hardships during in the Kazakh SSR–famine and privations and the capricious arrest and exile of loved ones–that it’s hard to read, given the degree to which Mashurova’s portrayal engages the reader in her heroine’s plight. But in such hardship there is personal support to be found in FAMILY and in FRIENDSHIP. Human kindness and consideration do not disappear, but indeed seem to flourish like flowers in the desert. The reader’s heart is warmed and hope is rekindled. Every chapter is a subtle education in the culture, the times, and in the best human values. It’s a stirring work that I highly recommend.
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