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Book Reading "The Dead Lake"

Literary Reading with Hamid Ismailov: The Dead Lake (Poster)

Hamid Ismailov’s The Dead Lake (Вундеркинд Ержан) is a novel about the Soviet nuclear testing site Semipalatinsk in Qazaqstan as well as about the people living there, interspersed with tales about Tengrism, the ancient Turkic religion which still influences Central Asia today. The reading takes place in conjunction with the second annual conference of the RTG 2571 “Empires” titled Environmental and Cultural Destruction in Imperial Spaces. The reading will combine selected scenes from the novel with a moderated interview in order to discuss both the novel itself as well as its relationship to the conference’s broader topic. Thereby we want to particularly emphasise the intersection of literature, empire and destruction, highlighting the role literature plays in describing destruction and thus allowing readers to ‘experience’ nuclear destruction through literary representation. In this context, particularly questions of ethics and aesthetics are of central concern, for they both shape our understandings not only of empire and destruction, but also of resilience and survival.

Hamid Ismailov is a renowned Uzbek witer-in-exile who writes his novels in Uzbek, Russian and English. His novels have been translated i.a. into English, French, Spanish and German. He is also a journalist and an academic writer, has been the Writer in Residence for BBC World Service and has given talks at esteemed universities such as Yale, Berkley and Standford. In his novels he explores a vast range of toipcs from Muslim philosopher and physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna) to the Great Stalinist Terror and the repression of Uzbek philosophers and writers, from bees to classical Uzbek poetry.

The reading will be in Russian and German with written translations into English. The Interview/Discussion will be in English with short translations into German.

This reading takes place in combination with our second annual conference Environmental and Cultural Destruction in Imperial Spaces”.