Nabijon Boqiy: “Slaves will Create a Servant Literature”

Dear readers! We would like to introduce you to a wonderful novelist and short story writer from Uzbekistan, Nabijon Boqiy. Born in 1956 in the Baghdad District of Fergana region, he is one of the leading contemporary authors of Uzbekistan.  His novel about the recent hard times of the Uzbek people during the dictatorship is available in English. His two novels have been published in Turkish. Nabijon Boqiy spent months in the KGB archives in search of historic materials for his novels.  His published books include Qatlnoma (A Story of execution, dedicated to the sad fate of the great Uzbek writer Abdulla Qodiriy); Gulzamira; Letters to Chingiz Efendi; and The Will of Anwar Pasha.  Nabijon Boqiy translated works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Chingiz Aitmatov, Mukhtor Shakhanov and Georgiy Pryakhin into Uzbek.  He is the holder of the Shuhrat medal and the winner of the ‘Best Historic Book’ award.   

In the interview below, Uzbek poet A’zam Obid and writer Nabijon Boqiy talk about the current state of creative writing in Uzbekistan, the life of a writer, and what it means to be a writer in this Central Asian country.

A’zam Obid: Hello, brother Nabijon! Thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions!

It seems to me that a good writer or poet is not only a person who writes a beautiful work of art, but also a person who regularly reacts to events in his/her society on various platforms (for example, on social networks).  A writer must be a defender of human rights, an opponent of an unjust system, a humble person as well as a strong person who lives with conflict. In fact, I am not a person who describes or evaluates poets or writers, dividing them into ‘mediocre’, ‘good’ or ‘great’ artists. A writer or a poet, who is unpopular or shallow, sometimes seems to me to be a very strong person. In general, I would like to ask you how important strength is for a creative person. Who is the real Uzbek writer today? Can you describe him or her?

NABIJON BOQIY: I think now in Uzbekistan the one who describes himself as ‘a true Uzbek writer’ is a hypocrite. One type of writers are those who hang around the presidential administration (Devon) until they beautify their own houses and the cemeteries where they could be buried. The other type (such writers are too many) are those who, even if they could not get to Devon, they would take themselves to the managers from Devon and work with them.  The most interesting thing is that both groups think that they serve the nation, always saying “My people!” and “My country!”  However, their ultimate goal is that they reach the level when the government would feed them and they would be closer to the palace. I told an interesting story about them in my novel called The Diary of Yurtmenboshi. In 2010, I signed a contract with Ozodlik Radio (RFRL), and the main part of the novel was published on its website.  My teacher, famous Uzbek writer Erkin A’zam, who was one of the first readers of that novel said: “This novel of Nabijon brightens the face of Uzbek writers, no matter when he publishes it: during his life or after his death. The person who reads this work, fortunately, will say that representatives of Uzbek literature are not only engaged in praise and that they also wrote the bitter truth!” Writers and poets such as Temur Pulatov, Gulchehra Nurullaeva, Miraziz A’zam, Asqar Haydar, Nurulla Oston, Ibrahim Haqqul, Orozboy Abdurahmanov also liked this novel.

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