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We, the Kazakhs…
Western readers know little about this people or their vast country, the world’s ninth largest, although the Kazakhs have seen much of human history. From their roots as traders and nomadic herders during the Silk Road period, to their modern experience with atomic bomb testing and space-age triumph, the history of Kazakh culture remains relatively unexplored in the Western world.
Even less known is author Abdi-Jamil Nurpeisov, venerated sage of Kazakh and Russian literature, though his books have been published in translation worldwide. Nurpeisov exposes Kazakh life to Western readers as Tolstoy did with Russians, and Marquez, Colombians.
Final Respects is the story about people standing face-to face with one of the world’s most devastating man-made ecological disasters – the tragedy of the shrinking and dying Aral Sea. The dramatic lives of two childhood friends eloquently unfold as they find themselves on opposite sides of the issues surrounding this awful catastrophe. New seeds of evil corrupt the souls of yesterday’s nomads in their modern environment: ruthlessness, ambitious careerism, unbridled pursuit of profits, ideology, demagogy and deceit. The conflict between these friends, now separated by education and their social milieus also entails their rivalry for the love of the same woman.
As a sequel to his epic Blood and Sweat, in Last Respects, Nurpeisov depicts in rich detail the life of a fishing village with its kaleidoscope of panoramic events, ethnographic tapestry, and sophisticated fabric of relationships. Nurpeisov’s colorful past and intimate familiarity with the demise of Kazakh traditional culture and its dramatic history come to life in this enjoyable and educational read.