Printed in Diplomatic Courier – May 30, 2013
By Bryce Bytheway
On the evening of May 22nd the Embassy of Kazakhstan hosted acclaimed author Abdi-Jamil Nurpeisov in celebration of his books recently translated into English: “Final Respects” and “Blood and Sweat.” The private event featured remarks made by His Excellency Ambassador Kairat Umarov and author Abdi-Jamil Nurpeisov, the guest of honor.
Nurpeisov was born in Kasakhstan in 1924, near the Aral Sea. He participated in the eastern front of World War II, and was one of few of his unit to survive the horrors of battle and later the pains of reconstruction. Kazakhstan has changed significantly in his long life, and he has lived to tell the tale of his people.
In “Final Respects,” Nurpeisov depicts in rich detail the life of a fishing village, and the tragedy of the shrinking and dying Aral Sea. The plot surrounds two childhood friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the issues surrounding this awful catastrophe.
“Blood and Sweat” is a sweeping tale about the vanishing way of life of Kazakhs in a small rural village. Within the pages of this novel, Nurpeisov seeks to reveal Kazakh culture to Western readers and unveil his people’s largely unknown history.
While speaking on his life and the desire to translate his books into English, Nurpeisov stated, “It has become clear to me that it is the greatest stupidity to close your mind to anything outside of what you have learned in the one tiny spot where you were born.” He explained, “It is easy to carelessly brush off any one thing, even a self-evident fact. But it is only a temporary deception of the self. Our lives are all interconnected and we are all stewards of the same magical earth.”
Nurpeisov’s words teach a wonderful fact that many people are content to ignore: what happens in regions on one side of the Earth affects the lives of those who live thousands of miles away. In his life and through his experiences, he has learned amazing and wonderful things—not only about Kazakhstan, but about all life on Earth.