08 November 2011

Glimpses of Village Life in Kyrgyzstan

My family might not own many paper books anymore, but we did keep our big picture books of the Middle East and other interesting parts of the world during the book scanning fest last year.  They're in storage right now, but we like to get books with lots of pictures about the places we've been or love.  So we have books about Mamluk Cairo and the Dome of the Rock and the Alhambra and lots of other wonderful places.

We don't have anything about Central Asia however. There are a few about Uzbekistan which would be great since we want to go to Uzbekistan someday, but I also want something that's about Kyrgyzstan and I hadn't been able to find anything.  But I did find Glimpses of Village Life in Kyrgyzstan and I really like this book.  It's not big and fancy, but it's the first thing I've seen that really portrays Kyrgyzstan the way it is outside Bishkek.

The author, Meredith Thorpe, lived here in early 2003 and spent a lot of time in rural southern Kyrgyzstan.  The book is mostly her watercolors that she did here; you can tell wasn't just running in and out of places, but really seeing what is here.  She covers so much in this book that I've never seen in any other book on Kyrgyzstan.

My only quibble about the book is that ethnicity isn't dealt with very clearly.  Maybe that was intentional because Kyrgyz in the south are a lot more like Uzbeks than they might like to admit, but a reader might not be able to tell if a tradition or practice described is Kyrgyz specifically or more generally Central Asia or possibly just Uzbek.  Sometimes it seems like Uzbeks completely disappear into the background when they are a significant part of southern Kyrgyzstan. 

Still, that doesn't take away from the book too much and there's still a lot to like about it. 

Now I just need to find something about the edges of China.  Most slick picture books about China aren't exactly interested in the parts of China I like.

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