A word for the youth – III International Writers’ and Publicists’ Forum in Almaty

From 2 to 4 of December, The III International Writers’ and Publicists’ Forum took place in Almaty. 43 authors under the age of 43 gathered together to discuss problems of Kazakh prose, poetry and journalism. “Young writers, youthful words” says the slogan under the logo of the Kazakh Pen Club. In general, Pen Club is an international organization that unites and protects people who write: writers, journalists, critics. The first pen club was founded in London in 1921. In Kazakhstan, the branch opened a little less than 30 years ago. Then the post of head was under the famous writer Abdizhamil Nurpeisov, and for the last eight years the head is Bigeldi Gabdullin:

“Writers from time immemorial have been asking three questions – how, what and why to write? But the difference between our young writers and their predecessors is that they are interested in what is happening not outside, but inside themselves. But, unfortunately, work eats up a lot of time, and writing remains as a hobby. Due to lack of qualifications, the authors are stewing in their juice and become dissatisfied with themselves. And our task is to let literature masters dissect their texts and help to look at them from a different angle.”

The participants spent part of their time at general lectures and discussions with masters of literature (for example, Bakhytzhan Kanapyanov), then dispersed to thematic seminars. As it usually happens at such events, the main life began to boil with the end of the official part. In fact, the main purpose of such forums is not so much to discuss global problems as to bring participants together in an informal setting.

The forum touched upon the main problems of literature in Kazakhstan. Young authors complained about the lack of financial and moral support from the state; the underdevelopment of translation and criticism institutions; the isolation of writers’ generations from each other. At the same time, it is difficult to say that a specific solution was proposed for at least one of these problems. But at any rate the mechanism of awareness of how and what to do launched. By the way, there was plenty of foreign guests with the great experience. Poet Bakhyt Kenzheev (USA), writer Vladimir Kartsev (Russia), writer Mesut Senol (Turkey), publicist and political scientist Maxim Shevchenko (Russia), poet and critic Evgeniy Abdullaev, also known as Sukhbat Aflatuni (Uzbekistan), writer Ergali Ger (Lithuania), poet and translator Dmitry Kuzmin came to speak (Latvia), poet and translator Igor Kotjuh (Estonia), translators Simon Hollingsworth and Simon Geoghegan (UK), translator Marina Vladi (USA) arrived to participate in the forum. The guest performances went with simultaneous translation into Kazakh, Russian and English.

However, some forum issues left debatable. The organizers insisted that their goal was to hold the forum without unnecessary pomp. But for the conference of young writers, the elders (aksakals) spoke too much. Of course, listening to Bakhyt Kenzheyev is always interesting – he is a pure combination of charisma and internationally recognized skill. However, trying to solve the problems of Kazakh literature through the prism of life in the US is not always a good decision. There was also a hot agenda: participants touched on the acute topic of Russian literature. Kazakhstan is one of the few countries where a large body of literature is not published in the state language, and Russian-speaking authors are criticized for their involvement in the culture of the northern neighbor. Dmitry Kuzmin, Russian poet and translator, noted a curious thing:

“Russian literature is a brand that formed historically. But now it lost its house, it has been kicked out. And Kazakhstan has a unique opportunity to take it for itself. If the authors who have an international name will speak and publish there, then international interest will follow them. And everyone will get a piece from this pie – isn’t it what Kazakh literature needs now?”

Unfortunately, the tight deadlines of the forum did not allow it to unfold in full force. At the end of the seminars, some participants received medals for the best texts. But the contestants failed to evaluate each other – the works were sorted out in sections and read only by masters. That is, publicists and prosaists who did not receive any awards in the piggy bank could only rely on the dignity of the poets’ works. It was not possible to draw unambiguous conclusions on how to help domestic literature in the shortest possible time either. But at the same time, the mechanism of rapprochement within the country launched, and pieces of Kazakhstani literature scattered around the world together with foreign guests by books and links. And young authors have clearly learned what mistakes they should avoid in future.

2023 Arizona-in-Kazakhstan Program: Applications Open!


The University of Arizona, in collaboration with Eurasian National University (ENU), is now accepting applications for the 2023 Summer Intensive Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies in Astana, Kazakhstan. We particularly welcome undergraduate as well as graduate students whose research focuses on Central Asia and students interested in learning multiple foreign languages. We accept all types of funding. The Arizona-in-Kazakhstan Program is fully FLAS compliant.

The program dates are 19 June – 28 July 2023 (6 weeks, equivalent to one academic year of language instruction in the primary language). All students will receive instruction in two languages (primary and second): Russian (all levels) and Kazakh (elementary). Courses taught in English: Students can enroll in one elective course in Eurasian Studies taught in English. 

INFORMATION ZOOM SESSION/ELECTRONIC WALK-INS will be held on December 2 (Friday), 2022 (9:30 AM -10:30 AM, Mountain Standard Time). 

Register in advance for this meeting: 

https://arizona.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUod-CsqT8qHNOFpL0MhVyL6JXJB9zUKig6

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Participants can start the application process and find detailed information about the program, including its cost, course descriptions, details about housing and meal plans, and extra-curricular programming at https://global.arizona.edu/study-abroad/program/arizona-kazakhstan. Please note that the 2023 application deadline is February 25.

For detailed information about the program, please contact Dr. Liudmila Klimanova, Director of the Arizona-in-Kazakhstan Program, klimanova@arizona.edu  and Sabrina Sterbis, Arizona-in-Kazakhstan Program Coordinator, ssterbis@arizona.edu

Learn Kazakh in Madison, Wisconsin!

 Applications for CESSI 2023 are now open!  CESSI typically offers courses in Kazakh, Tajik, Uyghur, and Uzbek.  Additional Central Eurasian languages (such as Azerbaijani or Kyrgyz) may be added with sufficient student interest.  

Several funding opportunities exist for students of any type. Graduate students (including incoming students), post-baccalaureate researchers, and professionals who are U.S. citizens are especially encouraged to apply for the Title VIII Fellowship*, which covers full tuition plus a stipend of $2,500 for the summer.  Note: this is a great opportunity for your incoming MA and PhD students to develop language skills before embarking on fieldwork.  

About the program:  

CESSI is an intensive, eight-week language program held each summer in Madison, Wisconsin.  This year the program will run from June 19 – August 11, 2023. Students receive the equivalent of one year of language study during this time and earn eight credits upon completion of the program.  In addition to language classes, CESSI students have the opportunity to attend lectures on Central Eurasia; participate in cultural events; engage with local Central Eurasian communities; and network with other scholars of Central Eurasia.  Students of all disciplines and academic programs are welcome!  

The priority application deadline is February 1, 2023. We will be regularly posting information/application deadlines to Facebook (@CessiMadison), Instagram (@uwcessi), and Twitter (@UWCESSI), which you are welcome to share.  For more information, please visit our website at cessi.wisc.edu or contact cessi@creeca.wisc.edu

*TVIII funding is provided by the United States government. Funding is conditional on final approval from U.S. State Department. 

“The Fly” by Tonya Shipulina – a children’s book about an adult problem

Sarracenia is an ingenious trap, an ideal mechanism for catching and killing insects. Its design is amazing! The top of these stunning plants looks like a flower with a pattern of red veins. It doesn’t just draw attention to itself, it promises future victim a fabulous treat. Drops of enticing nectar stand out on the underside of the sarracenia leaf. The insect can’t resist it. For example, this fly. Just look at how passionate it is about eating treats, but it does not notice that it becomes quite difficult to stay on the sheet. The leaves of sarracenia initially help the insect to go down — inside the water lily, but then they become slippery. The fly slips, falls and drowns in a well filled with digestive enzymes. There is no escape — it is impossible to get out of the water lily. The insect gradually decomposes, and the plant absorbs nutrients, replenishing all energy costs for the production of sweet nectar.

No, this is not an excerpt from a biology book. And no matter how deceptive the title is, Tony Shipulina’s “The Fly” is not about insects at all. “Fly” (“Муха”) is the main character Misha’s nickname. He is no different from his peers: he listens to Imagine Dragons, skips classes, spends free time on the Internet. Just instead of Googling games or sports, he searches for such terrible words as “alcoholism”, “fumes” and “traps”. Because Misha’s dad Maxim is that fly, and his sarracenia is a stash of alcohol.

The problem of alcoholism in families is not a new topic, but “The Fly” is a very modern book. The main characters – Misha, his dad Maxim and mom Alina – are constantly looking for something on the World Wide Web, and Misha’s classmates make “cocaine” tracks by rubbing ascorbic acid. There is no clear geographical reference in the book either. The names and speech of the heroes allows to present them in any post-Soviet space.

The uniqueness of “The Fly” is that a completely childish theme is inscribed in a children’s book with surgical accuracy. Young readers will hardly understand the text, but it will not cause rejection in adults. The author admits that it was the main idea to describe a difficult topic without blackness.

“Misha also turns away. From Dad. He follows Tigran. They trudge slowly. Even slower than before. Misha feels like the sole of the shoes is burning — this happens in extreme heat in summer. If you walk on asphalt heated in the sun. But it’s not summer, and the shoes are burning anyway. “It’s probably a shame,” Misha thinks. With every step that takes him away from his father who lies freezing on the bench, it becomes harder to breathe — the heat creeps up his legs, gets to his throat, cheeks. Now he will melt all this snow. Misha’s cheeks are flushed — they are red. Probably red. Is it noticeable?”

The book colorfully conveys child’s tough experience. Misha does not fully understand what is happening, but feels something wrong in his gut. He gets acquainted with the senses of shame, fear, disgust, finds himself in a codependent relationship with his own father. He sees how the bottle turns his kind, perky dad into a mooing disgusting creature. He learns the vulnerability of his mother, who could always protect him from everything, but now for some reason she can’t. And how vividly this range of emotions lives in a very small book deserves respect.

Perhaps the only shaky place in “The Fly” – it is not quite clear how old the main character Misha is. For a middle school pupil he does not know some simple things, but for a junior in certain situations he behaves more than consciously. Perhaps this is a special author’s move to erase the boundaries. Tonya, who has two sons, knows firsthand how boys behave at different ages.

It is also noticeable that the book consists of personal experience. The author admits that she herself went through alcoholism of a loved one. Therefore, the book is both therapy and an opportunity to give a helping hand to those who are lost in the problem. This is a good incentive to talk about addiction from an early age in order to protect children from it in the future. And it is also a wonderful reading, woven in an easy and natural language.

The ending of the book is positive, but at the same time open. The reader learns that Alina is planning a trip with the whole family to Malaysia, Maxim is looking for ways to treat, and Misha is returning to the theater section which he left because of difficulties with his father. It seems that everything is getting better, but Alina’s phrase is firmly entrenched in the subcortex: “do you know how many of these “that’s all” were?” The final illustration of the book hints at the same thing: the mirror is divided into two parts. The first reflects a happy family, and the second is shattered. However, I really want to believe that the glass is rather half full here.

Tonya Shipulina was born in Almaty. In 2004, she graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. She worked as a correspondent and editor in Kazakhstani newspapers and magazines. Tonya is the author of “One amazing adventure of a cowardly rum and a stupid norik”, “Three Tea Dragons and Sparkling Dust”, “The Witch of the Mists’ Land”, “The Secret of the Witch Ursula”, “Shrews and Slits” books. Her story “Marshmallow Zhora” was turned into a play in Almaty’s “Art&Shock” theatre. In 2017 Tonya Shipulina received a Krapivin International Prize and became the winner of the illustrators’ competition “Write a Writer” at the Red Square Book Festival. Tonya is in the catalog of “100 best new children’s books” according to the Gaidar Library.

A little about Almaty Writing/Translating Residency 2022

The second Writing Residency took place in Almaty from October 23 to October 29. This is a project of the Open Literary School of Almaty jointly with Chevron and the U.S. Consulate, with the support of the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa. Thanks to the Writing Residency in Almaty 2021, you are reading this blog now – it was born during the event.

This year, not only writers, but also translators participated in the residency. A separate workshop of literary translation was held under the leadership of Nina Murray, and gathered 8 people who were interested in exploring literary translation. The participants translated texts included in the long list of the Qalamdas prize. The pieces, originally written in Russian and Kazakh languages, will now be available in English versions as well.

The residency, which took place in a sanatorium, was a very comfortable format for writers and translators. Four meals a day, wellness treatments, clean air and healthy sleep after a ton of activities – what else do you need for comfortable work? During the week, the translators worked on the seminars in the mornings, and in the evenings they met with resident writers at thematic meetings. We discussed children’s literature (which was the topic of the residency), the lack of a bridge between authors and translators, got acquainted with foreign guests (for example, Christopher Merrill, head of IWP and the host of the residency last year) and read texts.

Translators at work.

Gulsaya Mazhenova, participant of the translation seminar, writes:

“I was one of the 9 luckiest to be selected as participants of the workshop on Literary Translation held for a week in Almaty, Kazakhstan, within the Almaty Writing Residency 2022 event. It was just an amazing experience – the friendly people, the warm atmosphere, the brightest ideas – it is a known fact that these rarely come together. We were given a unique opportunity to listen to and chat with Christopher Merrill, an American poet, essayist, journalist and translator, and Kelly Dwyer, an experienced writer and editor, author of several novels, as well as Yuriy Serebryanski, a Kazakhstani author, cultural researcher and active member of Almaty Open Literary School. Our coach, Nina Murray, author of several award-winning translations and a poet, generously shared her knowledge and specific translation methods with us, translators… and future writers… or poets, who knows? And this is what I am mostly grateful to this workshop – it inspired me to dare – dare to write, to create, and of course, to translate, be it prose or poetry.”

As a volunteer in the residency’s organization and a participant in the translators seminar, I can say that it was an amazing week. The atmosphere of upcoming projects and ideas was everywhere, as it was last year. And we can say for sure that twenty people – writers, translators and organizers – left the sanatorium refreshed and inspired. I can’t wait to see what results will be released this year!

Alma Review turns one year!

On November 1, 2021 we launched our beloved blog The Alma Review. Up until then, no one had written about Kazakh literature in English, so we decided to be the first. During the year we reached almost 2,000 readers in nearly 60 countries. We have published essays, critical articles, news, memoirs – in a word, everything that modern literature consists of. Dozens of talented authors, translators and critics gathered under one virtual roof. We constantly receive offers of cooperation from other blogs and authors, and this is a great stimulus. We are insanely glad that the project is alive! Happy birthday, The Alma Review!

Интервью с Редакторами RusKidLit/WorldKidLit

По случаю Писательской Резиденции 2022, мы взяли особое интервью–у Рут Ахмедзаи Кемп и Екатериной Шаталовой, создателей блога RusKidLit и авторов WorldKidLit, ведущих англоязычных ресурсов о детской и подростковой литературе мира. (ответы Рут в переводе на русский Анны Уолден)

По случаю Писательской Резиденции 2022, мы взяли особое интервью–у Рут Ахмедзаи Кемп  и Екатериной Шаталовой, создателей блога RusKidLit и авторов WorldKidLit, ведущих англоязычных ресурсов о детской и подростковой литературе мира. (ответы Рут в переводе на русский Анны Уолден)

The Alma Review: Что cподвинуло Вас на создание ресурсов RusKidLit?

Рут Ахмедзаи Кемп: World Kid Lit blog и хештеги #WorldKidLit и #WorldKidLitMonth запустили в 2016 г. эксперты-литературоведы Марша Линкс Квейли (Marcia Lynx Qualey, первый редактор ArabLit и переводчик арабской литературы), Лоуренс Шимель (Lawrence Schimel, испаноязычный и англоязычный писатель детских книг, поэт, переводчик, издатель) и Александра Бюхлер (Alexandra Büchler, руководитель программы Literature Across Frontiers и переводчик чешской литературы). Они запустили кампанию World Kid Lit с целью повысить доступность международной литературы в ответ на возрастающий интерес к разносторонней и инклюзивной литературе для детей, то есть к книгам, в которых представлено население Земли во всём его многообразии.

Найти детские книги из других стран бывает непросто, поскольку издатели не всегда освещают тот факт, что книга переводная, с какого языка она переведена, и кто переводчик. Проект World Kid Lit был создан для того, чтобы помочь англоязычным читателям познакомиться с работами зарубежных и иноязычных авторов, иллюстраторов и переводчиков. Для привлечения внимания широкой общественности к динамично развивающейся детской и подростковой литературе был также создан специальный сайт. Помимо прочего, он призван быть хабом между читателями и другими организациями, работающими в сфере детско-юношеской литературы.

Мы с Екатериной и Марией запустили блог Russian Kid Lit с той же целью: облегчить читателям поиск детских книг, изначально написанных на русском, а издателям — шедевров, еще не переведенных на английский. 

Сайт — это социальный проект, которым руководят волонтеры из нескольких стран; сейчас у нас представлены работы писателей и иллюстраторов из Украины, Казахстана и России.

Read more: Интервью с Редакторами RusKidLit/WorldKidLit

Екатерина Шаталова: В настоящий момент мы наблюдаем настоящий «золотой век» русской детской литературы. В стране нет недостатка в новых талантливых авторах и иллюстраторах, которые создают высококачественные книги для детей. До начала войны почти каждый месяц появлялись новые издательства (всего в России функционирует около 500 детских издательств), а в 2021 году в Москве впервые с момента основания прошел 37-й Всемирный конгресс Международного совета по детской и юношеской литературе IBBY. Однако, за рубежом о наших современных авторах знают весьма условно, поскольку лишь малая доля книг переводится на английский и другие языки. Поэтому мы решили, что было бы здорово делиться рецензиями на книги, которые незаслуженно остаются в тени, в надежде, что это также привлечет интерес иностранных издателей.

AR: Можете ли поделиться историями успеха, связанными с этими блогами?

Рут: Одной из целей для обоих блогов была публикация рецензий на книги на других языках, еще не переведенных на английский, с тем, чтобы стимулировать интерес к ним со стороны англоязычных издателей. Для каждого из блогов есть по крайней мере по одной такой истории.

В прошлом году Екатерина написала на Russian Kid Lit blog о книге Анны Анисимовой и Юлии Сидневой «Музыка моего дятла» (The Music of My Woodpecker), и рецензию прочли в Restless Books (независимое издательство в Нью-Йорке). Они купили права на книгу и попросили меня перевести книгу на английский. Это прекрасная иллюстрированная детская книга о приключениях и о бескрайнем воображении маленькой слепой девочки. Перевод будет опубликован в апреле 2023 г. под названием The Invisible Elephant

В блоге World Kid Lit мы опубликовали две рецензии на украинские детские книги (написанные на украинском и русском). Первая была посвящена украинской переводчице Ханне Лелив (Hanna Leliv), работавшей над книгой Cappy and the Whale, “Шапочка і кит”, которую написала Катерина Бабкина. Это история восьмилетнего мальчика по имени Шапочка (Cappy). У него лейкемия. И в один из дней он знакомится с китом, волшебным образом парящим над парком, на который выходят окна его комнаты. Права на книгу приобрел Penguin Random House, и перевод Ханны будет издан уже в этом месяце!

AR:     Какой совет Вы дали бы детским авторам, которые мечтают выйти на международный рынок?

Рут: На английском издается так много книг, а конкуренция за внимание издателей настолько высока, что у издателя крайне мало времени на то, чтобы искать книги, написанные на других языках, в особенности на русском. Редакторы могут прочесть что-то на французском или испанском, но редко находятся такие, кто в состоянии оценить книгу, написанную на других языках. Так что при оценке возможных новых изданий им остается лишь доверяться переводчикам или экспертам-билингвам. Затраты издателей на оценку новых иноязычных книг могут быть очень высокими, ведь им приходится оплачивать работу переводчика или читателя-билингва, которые в состоянии написать качественное краткое изложение книги, а зачастую и перевод ее фрагмента. Чтобы привлечь внимание англоязычного издателя, лучше всего начать работать с международным литературным агентом, который сможет сделать качественный перевод фрагмента книги и профессионально подготовить материалы для презентации вашей книги издателям. К сожалению, агентов, работающих с русскоязычными авторами, не так много. Пока что я знаю только о Syllabes Agency в Лионе, Франция, и Genya aGency в Москве.  Оба агентства имеют успешный опыт международных сделок. Если бы я была писателем и искала способы издаться на других языках за рубежом, я бы прежде всего вышла на такое агентство и поинтересовалась условиями сотрудничества.

Екатерина: Внимательно следить за книжными трендами, отсматривать результаты различных конкурсов (BolognaRagazzi Award, Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, Hans Christian Andersen Award и т.д.), искать темы, которые мало представлены.

AR: В чем, по Вашему мнению, главное отличие между литературой для детей и для взрослых?

Рут: Есть много отличий, но для меня — как переводчика — важнее всего то, насколько язык изложения подходит для чтения вслух. Взрослые читатели обычно более терпимо относятся к излишне пространным, косноязычным или двусмысленным предложениям. А вот дети (и родители) — это довольно-таки разборчивые читатели, и косноязычия обычно не терпят! Если текст приятно и легко читается, они будут читать.

Когда у меня готов черновой перевод, я часто читаю его вслух моим детям, чтобы удостовериться в качестве текста. Так я могу сразу заметить: легко ли он читается? Понятно ли, кто и как говорит? Не перегружено ли предложение? Где в этом предложении смысловое ударение, не двусмысленно ли оно? Все эти вопросы я держу в уме, переводя любое предложение из любого текста, но при работе над детскими книгами такие аспекты многократно важнее.

Екатерина: На самом деле, деление литературы на «для детей» и «для взрослых» довольно условно. Многие из нас выросли, читая вполне себе «взрослые» книги, в то время как взрослые спокойно читают детскую литературу. При этом нельзя забывать, что детская литература контролируется миром взрослых: взрослые (за редкими исключениями) пишут, редактируют, переводят, издают, продают, рецензируют, преподают и покупают книги детям. Так насколько эта литература для детей? В этом плане очень радует появление детских школ критики и книжных конкурсов, где судьи – дети. Конечно, с теоретической точки зрения, всегда можно выделить отдельные жанры, темы, особенности языка и сюжета, стремление к дидактике и т.д., но стоит ли?

AR: К теме нашей резиденции в Алматы: Какие шансы на развитие у детской литературы в эпоху постоянных технологических и социальных перемен?

Рут: Я твердо убеждена в важности чтения и доступности качественной детской литературы; это необходимо, чтобы дать детям ощущение стабильности и время для размышлений на фоне растущей нестабильности и неопределенности. Для меня чтение с детьми (с одним или с двумя вместе) хотя бы несколько минут каждый вечер — это ритуал, обеспечивающий постоянство даже в трудные времена. Я знаю много семей, которым ежедневное чтение вслух помогло пройти через хаос пандемии, зачастую при участии бабушек и дедушек через Skype или Zoom. Детская литература также может помочь юным читателям переварить и обдумать сложные и новые ситуации посредством историй, которые универсальны, которые расширяют их жизненный опыт и помогают им взглянуть на вещи с другой точки зрения. 

В последнее время одной из острых проблем для детской литературы — и в издательском деле вообще — стал рост расходов после пандемии и после начала войны в Украине. Книги всегда обходились дорого, но сейчас есть риск, что для многих школ и семей они и вовсе станут роскошью. Очень важны библиотеки, и мне хотелось бы видеть больше инвестиций в недорогие цифровые “читалки” для детей, что помогло бы снизить стоимость использования электронных книг. Для меня лично одним из замечательных достоинств электронных книг является то, что книги на иностранных языках, например, на русском, обходятся намного дешевле, чем купленные за рубежом. Для детей, воспитываемых в двуязычных семьях, крайне важен доступ к книгам на других языках по приемлемой цене, однако, редко у кого есть такая возможность.

Екатерина: Детская литература в привычном нам понимании появилась именно благодаря технологическим и социальным изменениям. Поэтому, несмотря на бесконечный прогресс, детская литература никогда не «вымрет». В силу своей мультимодальности она, конечно же, видоизменяется, принимая новые формы. Сегодня мы как никогда наблюдаем тесное взаимоотношение между книгами, фильмами, играми и другими медиа для детей, новые технологии создают платформу для печатных и электронных книг. Особую популярность набирают приложения с интерактивными книгами. Такой интерактивный «сплав» текста, картинок и аудио выводит детскую литературу и читательский опыт в целом на новый уровень.

AR: Как привить любовь к чтению? Как выбрать наиболее подходящие книги ребенку?

Рут: Я считаю так: если мои дети видят меня за чтением, они тоже им заинтересуются и захотят читать. В моей семье все в целом так и работало, по крайней мере до этого лета, когда у моего старшего сына появился мобильный телефон, и он потерял интерес к чтению! Хотя я не теряю надежды. Надеюсь, если мы продолжим вместе читать и обсуждать книги, у него опять проснется интерес к чтению. 

Выбирать подходящие книги сложно, и я вижу, что многие дети читают классику двадцатого века (а там много такого, что для современного читателя выглядит не только старомодным, но может быть просто ханжеством или расизмом) просто потому, что родители и учителя не знакомы с современной детской литературой. Я бы посоветовала родителям говорить с продавцами в книжных магазинах, обращаться за рекомендациями к библиотекарям и искать информацию в интернете. В Instagram есть много книжных критиков и блоггеров с рекомендациями лучших современных книг для детей. Там вы также можете получить информацию об интересных мероприятиях и книжных чтениях. Я считаю, что возможность послушать автора, читающего собственную книгу (живьем или через интернет) — это тоже один из способов заинтересовать ребенка чтением.

Екатерина: После работы в детской библиотеке и книжном магазине хочется сказать лишь одно: не стоит ограничивать детей в чтении. Очень часто родители одёргивают детей: «Зачем тебе комикс? Да тут текста совсем нет! Это несерьёзно! Это же для маленьких, это для девочек и т.д. А вот я в твоём возрасте читал …» Не стоит мешать детям искать свой путь к чтению.

Anna Kozhanova: How to Advance Your Career as a Literary Translator

You need to follow the writers and poets you like, as well as your experienced colleagues and publishing houses. You need to collaborate and stop being afraid to show who you are and what you can do as a translator.

Translation requires great enthusiasm! You must love reading and deep-dive research, editing and re-editing for hours on end. But despite all this, translation is a great thing when you really enjoy it!  

I am very keen on translating fiction and non-fiction as a part of the special project dubbed the Laboratory of Literary Translation here, in Almaty. We translate modern authors and make their brilliant works available to a wider readership. 

The Laboratory of Literary Translation, supported by the U.S. Mission to Kazakhstan, is a project led by Yuriy Serebryanskiy, a Kazakhstani author, and Andrey Platonov, a translator. The project started in 2018 focusing on engaging enthusiasts willing to translate. 

I was very lucky to see the open call on Facebook. To pass the selection you needed to translate a short excerpt from ‘What’s eating Gilbert Grape’, a novel by Peter Hedges which I did! A few weeks later I got an invitation! I was over the moon and joined the project! 

Laboratory’s goal was to train amateurs, work in a team, and collaborate with authors. All this added up to  a real book named ‘Nine Stories’, a collection of short stories by modern American writers. The book can be downloaded for free at https://litshkola.kz/9storieskz/.

Our group began with translating and editing two Christophers (what a coincidence!): Christopher Merkner and Christopher Merrill. We met with the authors both online and offline and it was such a great experience for me. 

I am still part of the Laboratory of Literary Translation and from time to time we translate the pieces we like.

Today I would like to share some of my ideas on how to advance one’s career as a translator.  

Read more: Anna Kozhanova: How to Advance Your Career as a Literary Translator
  • First of all, you need to meet the right people and experts and look for places and events where such people gather to discuss professional issues. Networking is important and social networks are a great support here too!  I know it for sure as I kicked off this way. 
  • You need to follow the writers and poets you like, as well as your experienced colleagues and publishing houses. You need to collaborate and stop being afraid to show who you are and what you can do as a translator. Stop hiding and let the others spot you!
  • You need to read a lot in foreign and native languages as reading helps to find the right words with exact emotional coloring and meaning. It expands your horizons! Reading both Russian and English books makes me more confident. Writing a diary is also great as you learn how to express your ideas in writing. 
  • You need to practice. Participate in various projects, volunteer, and communicate with colleagues and editors. Learn to be persistent and patient and take comments as an opportunity to grow and not as a personal offense. You need to keep this in mind as only by getting reasonable comments and analyzing them one can grow as a translator. 

I know what I am talking about. I was very defensive and took any criticism very personally. It took me time to understand that no one was perfect. When you think that they are and when you are afraid to make mistakes, it will not advance you at all. 

Translation helped me to improve my communication, cooperation, and decision-making skills. It taught me how to defend a point of view too! So it’s definitely worth trying! 

Anna Kozhanova graduated from the Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She majored in English language and literature. Tried translation for the first time as a student. In 2005 started as a translator and a consecutive interpreter in one of the largest audit companies. Expert in audit, legal, marketing, corporate translations. Translates fiction and non-fiction as a part of the Laboratory of Literary Translation established in 2018 in Almaty. One of the translators and editors of Nine Stories, a collection of short stories by modern American writers. Translated short stories by Christopher Merkner ‘Of pigs and children’ and  ‘Local accident’ published in ‘Лиterraтура’online literary journal.

A Journey into Nostalgia: Ariadna Linn on Stories by Yuriy Serebriasky

Serebrianky, Yuriy. Stories.

This collection by Yuriy Serebriansky includes three short stories different in meaning and very close to each other in mood. These short travels remind you of places you have never been to. The first story, “Girl on the Garage Roof” sends you into a small city in Poland, while the last one, “Junkies,” takes you to a pioneer camp of a still existing USSR. In the one in the middle, “Trams Run on Schedule”, the narrator just walks along the cozy streets of Gdansk holding your hand, making you feel like you’ve been living there forever. 

Read more: A Journey into Nostalgia: Ariadna Linn on Stories by Yuriy Serebriasky

These three stories, however, are not about the things they are named after. They are neither about girls, trams or junkies. And to be honest, it doesn’t even matter what exactly they are about. What matters is the journey into magnificent poetics that Yuriy so generously invites you to. And he made sure this journey will not be on a plastic boat.

All three stories are united by a strong feeling of nostalgia. Nostalgia for your hometown or your first awkward experience in romance. They can almost remind you of your mother’s voice coming from the kitchen or the last school summer you remember. “I was slow-dancing with a girl whose name I don’t remember. Her neck smelled lovely,” the narrator says, and you can hear the songs they played when you were fifteen.

The narrator names a street he turns to, and you feel déjà vu – you are not sure that you have never been to this place anymore.

Maybe it is the careful description of a local bakery, or a vivid picture of the furniture from IKEA that makes you relate to these stories, or maybe it is because the narrator talks about you. Not just anyone, but you. There are moments where he will make you laugh, but only because you are thrown off by how accurate his depiction of you appeared in the story. The first time you were brave enough to break the rules with your classmate and were happy that you weren’t caught. Or the time when you were drinking wine on a summer terrace, alone, sharing thoughts with an imaginary listener. No matter what kind of memory it evokes in you, one thing is always true: Yuriy can make you feel like home in his texts.

Yuriy Serebriansky is a Kazakhstani author of Polish origin who writes prose, poetry and translates. He teaches at OLSA and works as an editor for Kazakhstani Polish diaspora magazine “Ałmatyński Kurier Polonijny” and Russian literary magazine “Literratura”. His works have been translated into many languages and published in a number of different magazines. Yuriy has been awarded the prize “Russkaya Premia” twice and his book Kazakhstani Fairy Tales was named the best bilingual book for young in 2017.  

Ariadna Linn is a young aspiring writer from Kazakhstan. She started her writing journey as a poet, but now she tries herself in different genres such as fiction, creative nonfiction and experimental prose. She currently studies literature and foreign languages at Nazarabayev University. Her work has been published in the literary magazine “Angime”.

Gender Inequality, Still with us Decades Later: Gulsaya Mazhenova on Zhusipbek Aimauytov’s Akbilek

Zhusipbek Aimauytov, Akbilek, Almaty, Atamura Publishing House, 2003. 

280 pages. ISBN 9965-05-874-1

Akbilek, a novel by Zhusipbek Aimautov, is a work that has an indelible place in the history of Kazakh literature. This novel describes daily life events and social issues, and challenges in individual destinies. An aspect of the imperial policy by the neighboring country, which has become a present-day issue, is also described herein.

The writer depicts the content of the story in an interesting way and describes the main characters looking deep into their personalities. Reading the novel, you will feel as if you have traveled to that period of Kazakh history. A beautiful combination of reality and artistic creativity gives true pleasure to a reader.

Akbilek is the name of the main character of the novel. She is a beautiful Kazakh girl with pure heart that is full of kindness. Unfortunately, by fate, she falls among the militants and becomes an entertainment object of invading officers. However, Akbilek, never giving in to violence, longs for freedom and does not lose her passion for life. She ends up getting married to Baltash, another main character, and finds true happiness.

Baltash is a guy who deeply understands and respects Akbilek. This is the quality that Akbilek most appreciates in Baltash. Despite her cruel fate, he falls in love with her. As for the negative characters, it is, of course, an officer, a cruel and disgusting person who abuses and tramples Akbilek’s honor. This character is also remembered as a true representative of a country that has followed an imperial policy for centuries. You wouldn’t wish Akbilek’s fate, the violence she went through and the pain she suffered, on your worst enemy. Who knew that the fate of Akbilek, who was deeply loved and pampered from childhood, who has neither ever faced difficulties nor humiliation, would turn out like this…?

Although the story depicted in the novel took place in the 1920’s, it is, of course, sad that gender inequality is a problem that has not been resolved even now, a whole century later…

Zhusipbek Aimauytov (1889-1931) was an outstanding Kazakh writer, playwright, publicist, translator and researcher. He was born and raised in the former Kyzyl Tu village of Bayanaul district in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan, which is now the village named after himself, the Zhusipbek Aymauytov village. During the Soviet persecution that began in 1929, he was arrested on suspicion of having ties to a nationalist organization in Kazakhstan, and after a long investigation, he was sentenced to death in absentia in 1931, and shot the same year. Zhusipbek Aimauytov, who lived in the time of social revolutions, managed to leave behind a rich, valuable literary and scientific legacy in his short life.

Gulsaya Mazhenova is a Kazakhstani trilingual translator, she has worked as a translator in the large international companies operating in Kazakhstan, mostly in communications and public relations. Gulsaya also works with the world’s top entertainment companies and translates from English to Kazakh and vice versa. Gulsaya’s works include translation of subtitles for movies and programs of the largest entertainment companies, translation of children’s books and fairy tales, etc.