What it means to be Qazaq in contemporary Kazakhstani literature

Guest post by Teagan Klinkner

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Socialist Republics had to cope with the sudden lack of a literary publication system among the collapse of other institutional infrastructure. Kazakhstan has yet to fully establish its own framework for the distribution and publication of Kazakh stories. In their interview with the Alma Review, Kazakhstani writers Kseniya Rogozhnikova and Mikhail Zemskov elaborate on the state of contemporary literature in Kazakhstan. The couple explains the competition between Russian and Kazakh publishers, since the former typically attracts a larger audience they subsequently generate more funds as well. Despite the national language being Kazakh, the lasting impact of the Soviet Union created a bilingual population; with urban areas relying on Russian and rural areas speaking primarily Kazakh. This dynamic along with the trends of literary audiences have many Kazakh artists straying from their origins in order to break into the industry.

In our exploration into the contemporary literature of Kazakhstan the reality of this dual-language problem is continuously prevalent. While reading stories considered the “unofficial city texts” of Almaty (the central location of this program), we noted that many were originally written in Russian, not Kazakh. Simply put, the cultural mythology of Kazakhstan was not written in its native language. This situation would be analogous to a state like India having its literary canon written in English due to the British colonization of the country. Kseniya Rogozhnikova and Mikhail Zemskov are both native to Kazakhstan but started learning kazakh rather recently. However, couple mentions that they already can speak on the basic level. Moreover, Kseniya’s books that she ofthen writes with co-authors are mostly bilingual. Writing books in several languages is a direction many authors have gone in. Some however have published on a small scale solely in Kazakh. I was intrigued by the difference in details across stories written in English, Russian, and Russian/Kazakh. This post will focus on a brief comparison between story #14 by Denis Keen from The Illustrated Guide to Almaty, Пастухи-близнецы (the Twin Shepards) by Yuri Serebryansky from Kazakhstani Fairytales, and Mängilik Jel (the Eternal Wind) by Anuar Duisenbinov from Metamorph. These texts are further explored in the book reviews by my fellow classmates so if these stories interest you please read their reviews as well!

Denis Keen was born and raised in the US, eventually moving to Almaty, Kazakhstan where he began to write about the city and its mythology. As the only story from The Illustrated Guide to be originally written in English it presents a unique foreign interpretation of the city. Keen’s story focuses on the individuality expressed in the single story cottage neighborhoods, posing a stark contrast to the skyscraping skyline presented to travelers in publicized documentation of the city’s design. These details, Keen argues: “will never be conquered,” as they survived the Soviet era and a push towards independent expression of nationality. As Kazakhstan has adopted new means of distinguishing itself from its former colonizer (such as changing the alphabet from the Russian cyrillic to Latin), forms of individualism such as the intricate external woodwork depicting traditional national patterns have become a vital symbol of what it means to be Qazaq rather than Kazakh.

The Illustration accompanying Serebryansky’s story “The Twin Shepherds”

Coming from Russian and Polish heritage, Kazakhstani writer Yuriy Serebryansky has a very different interpretation of Kazakhstan. Writing primarily in Russian, Serebriansky crafted a collection of tales which form a national folklore with many stories having references to specific areas of the country. Serebriansky’s work was published in Russian, and then translated into Kazakh and English; since he, like many Kazakhsani authors, he knows very little Kazakh. Exemplifying the language gap and the imagined audience for his work. However the exception in Kazakhstani Fairy Tales is the use of references which a person unfamiliar with Kazakhstan may struggle to visualize. The story Twin Shepards is one which derives from stories of the mountain range and details regarding Kazakh customs.

Resembling the story of Cain and Abel (minus the murder), the two brothers work professions related to their geographic position, both brothers pose dreams to a force larger than themselves, and one is granted his wish; the ending, albeit, is not as originally imagined by the one brother. This story illustrates the “origins” of the Kazakh yurt through references to the geographic features of the region, a religious belief of the Kazakhstani people, and details which note elements of Kazakh national costume. While Keen noticed the architectural aspects of an urban Kazakhstani city, Serebryansky describes the steppe, glacial trails, pastures, and the mountain range in a single story, illustrating the vast, geographically diverse state. The story contains the use of Russian words which would be foreign to a native Russian speaker outside of Kazakhstan. One brother wears a тюбетейка (tubeteika) which is a traditional central asian cap, this same brother was tending his flock in a жайляу (zhaylyau), the term for a summertime mountain pasture in Kazakhstan. These terms distinguish Serebryansky as a Kazakhstani writer who writes in Russian from a strictly Russian writer, yet still limits his audience to those who understand Russian.

Anuar Duisenbinov, unlike the aforementioned authors, is fluent in Kazakh and although his poems often integrate both Kazakh and Russian his intention is to bring the Kazakh language into the multilingual literature world. As a queer Kazakhstani author, Duisenbinov facing criticism from multiple areas of life, and his poem Məңгілік Жел highlights the deeper cultural elements of Kazakhstani culture. Similar to Keen and Serebryansky, Duisenbinov references specific geographical features in order to orient the reader in the city of Astana. Along the same vein as Serebryansky, but absent from the writings of Keen, is Duisenbinov’s use of Kazakh-specific details like the “universal seacalf (мирового тюленя)” or the phrase: “you pump your traumas from the ground (качающий свои комплексы из земли).” These elements narrow the audience to the people of the country who connect to the globalization and colonization of Central Asia or to the victims of the Great Terrors or the displacement of people for the purpose of drilling for fossil fuels.

Duisenbinov is then further separated from the other authors through his use of the Kazakh language, the meaning of which cannot be retained or understood in the process of translation like the few words of Serebryansky. The title is one of these examples, мəңгілік жел is translated as the Eternal Wind but beyond the surface acts as a reference to the title of Kazakhstan as the “Eternal State (Məңгілік Ел),” and a remark on the climate of the capital, Astana. Matching the subject of the poem, Duisenbinov discusses the “great Kazakh nation” which he is disgracing and bringing shame upon. Shame is a crucial aspect of Kazakh culture, and one which the author argues is not as eternal as the wind blowing across the country. These are among several examples of Duisenbinov’s use of the Kazakh language to illustrate what is Kazakh and what is truly Qazaq. He challenges more than the institutions of publication by publishing poems which combine Russian and Kazakh, but utilizes language to redefine the boundaries of contemporary Qazaqstani literature.

Teagan Klinkner was born in Oregon, USA and currently attends Carleton College in Minnesota, USA. She is majoring in International Relations with a double major in Russian language. She spent 10 weeks at KazNU in Almaty, Kazakhstan studying Russian and the culture of Kazakhstan. She has won the Lee Sigelman Prize in Political Science for a paper on Russia and Ukraine. 

Life at the Intersection – A Review of the Almaty Writing Residency Catalog

A guest post by Sylvia Tammen

In April, the American Space and MakerSpace in Almaty hosted the
presentation of the Almaty Writing Residency catalog, a collection that takes stock of all that the residency has accomplished so far and presents some of the major works produced by participants.
The Almaty Writing Residency is an international project organized by the Olga Markova Open Literary School of Almaty (OLSHA) and the American
IWP International Writing Program that first took place in 2021.

Each year, the residency invites authors from Kazakhstan and abroad to discuss texts and meet with other writers. It’s no exaggeration to say that this project is making a profound impact on the literary scene both within Kazakhstan and
far beyond its borders. The catalog introduces the residency’s participants from 2021-2022. Many of them are already established prose writers, playwrights, and poets, but some are just beginning their literary journey. In their works, they ask questions: how does Kazakhstani literature fit into the global literary scene? And in light of the country’s multiculturalism and unique historical
development, how can the sore points in society be transformed into an
opportunity to create new literature, free and unconstrained by longstanding

In her essay “Life at the Intersection”, the writer Nuraina Satpayeva reflects
on what it’s like to live at the intersection of different epochs and cultures
without seeming to belong in any of them: “I’m Kazakh by nationality, but I
write and think in Russian… I’m a woman with an Eastern upbringing, but a
Western education.” Satpayeva’s desire to preserve her national identity is
evident in all her work. And in the poetry of Akzhan Amanzhol, Irina Gumyrkina, and Oral Arkuenova, we encounter language that is unlikely to be understood by readers in Russia.

«Этот год увековечен в Шаныраке и Акбулаке…» (И.Гумыркина)/ «Я подозревала, Что дыхание улиц — Красным углём задувающие мои мысли уже успели поселиться в моих лёгких…» (А.Аманжол)/«…привычный генетический страх смотреть, дышать, слушать разговаривать на родном» (О.Арукенова)

“This city’s immortalized in Shanyrak’s trauma, Akbulak’s” (I.
Gumrkina/translated by Katherine E. Young); “I felt like the breath of the streets blowing the fire in my mind has already settled in my lungs” (A.Amanzhol, translated by Aizharyk Sultankozha); “ordinary hereditary fear to see, to breathe, to listen, to speak freely in my way” (O. Arkuenova, translated by Shelley Fairweather-Vega).

AWR 2022 participants

This is the sound of Kazakh Russian, Almaty’s Russian. Coming from the pen
of Kazakhstani writers, the Russian language becomes rich with new signs,
omens, and distinctive stylistic features and mannerisms. Aman Rakmetov’s wonderful prose sketch “Ghostly Hills” is published in the catalog along with its English translation by Meirzhan Kurmanov. At first glance, the story appears absurd, but it turns out to be entirely logical. A talented acrobat is able to glide above the earth with ease because he lives by different laws, laws inaccessible to ordinary human understanding.

“Is it true that you are not afraid of death, like a crocodile, and always perform without a safety rope?” The journalist continued, staring at Nikolai’s hands.

“No, I am not afraid of death. Because death is a dream where we don’t have a sense of smell, but we see ghostly hills.”

“What hills?” The journalist wondered.

“The ghostly ones,” Nikolai answered, and left for the stage.

After the first trick, his hands slipped from the rope; he fell to the ground, broke his neck, and died instantly.

As soon as the hero accepts an ordinary understanding of reality and begins
to submit to earthly laws, the spell breaks – earth’s gravity comes into force,
and Nikolai falls to his death. In his discussion of translation, the Kazakhstani author and playwright Alisher Rakhat raises important questions about the divide between the Russian-speaking and Kazakh-speaking sections of the literary landscape and the appallingly low circulation of literary and scientific works published in Kazakh, emphasizing the need for a common space where authors can collaborate as equals to promote Kazakhstan’s literary and cultural
development. Rakhat proposes that all significant literary works written in
the languages of Kazakhstan’s peoples be translated into Kazakh: “this will
strengthen the unity of all peoples living in a single state… and signify
respect for the Kazakh language.”

The writer and translator Aynagul Sadykova conducts an interesting
experiment. When she talks to children about multiculturalism, she starts the
conversation by focusing on the children themselves: “…we need to help
children answer the questions ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What makes me unique?’” in
terms of their age, gender, appearance, character and nationality. Then we
can ask those same questions about others: “And who is she? Who is he?
Who are they? What makes them unique?”

Which is perhaps the main takeaway from all our conversations about the
problems of contemporary Kazakhstani literature. The important changes
taking place in literature and in our culture as a whole must begin with us
and with our personal qualities. And this is exactly what the Almaty Writing
Residency does, helping authors to understand themselves and their identity
– and, on the basis of this understanding, to solve the problems of
Kazakhstani literature.

Selina Taisengirova was born in Almaty, graduated from KazNPU named after Abay. Majored in Russian language and literature. Graduate of Pavel Bannikov Poetry Seminar in the Open Literary School of Almaty (2017-2018). Editor of the criticism and journalism section in the literary magazine “Dactyl”. The author of poetic collections published on “Polutona” and in “Dactyl” magazine. Finalist of the Metajournal literary award in the nomination “Poem of the Year” (2021). Entered the prize list of the Russian literary prize “Poetry” (2021).

Sylvia Tammen is a translator. She holds bachelor’s degrees in piano performance and Russian from the University of Georgia and spent a year studying at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU) in Almaty, Kazakhstan through the American Councils’ Language Flagship program.

Dramaturgy in Manshuk Kali’s Short Story “Instead of a Thousand Words”

Review by Alina Gatina. Translated by Alyona Timofeyeva

The story with the inconspicuous title “Instead of a thousand words” is a wonderful example of ultra–short prose written by the method: “author” – “reader-co-author”. It shows there is no shortage of plots because reality is overflowing with them, the only important thing is to choose the right scenery, set the lights and turn on the microphones.

In a noisy pizzeria light falls on a table by the window where a father and son are sitting. Life is happening between them. Everyday life is a sufficient source of drama in literature if the writer uses the possibilities of drama, as Manshuk Kali does. The task of dramaturgy is to expose the conflict.

There is a place for drama here – a pizzeria – and the visitors are teenagers and a young couple in love. They make noise and interfere with the main dialogue. The father still says what he came to tell his son, but the son can isolate himself from his father’s explanations, distracting himself from visitors and uttering things that are normal in a pizzeria.

– I want to tell you how everything happened.

– I’m hungry, <…> can I eat first? I just came from school.


… I don’t drink anymore! I go to work, stay there until night. Sometimes I even forget to eat.

– Can I have dessert? <…>

Another important point that creates the drama is that the author does not provide any backstory – the the reader learns about what happened only from the characters’ words. This method is the best gift to the reader. It will help to complete the unwritten, relying on the written.

“Instead of a Thousand Words” is written in the first person – such a narrative is characterized by relative freedom, however, and here the author does not forget about drama – the main character (the son) does not tell the reader anything about himself – his silence, abstract phrases, and most importantly actions tell more about the relationship with his father than if he explained them directly.

<…> – I looked at the photos the other day. Beautiful photos. And I thought: we are no worse than others. Maybe not better, but not worse as well! By the way, I don’t drink now. Do you think Mom will forgive me?

I shrugged, stubbornly not looking up. He drained the last sip of water from his glass. Then he asked:

— Does she know that you’re with me?

— Yes, – I put down the empty cup and got up. — I have a lot of homework.

— Fine. Tell your mother I don’t drink anymore, okay?

Turning my back to him, I took my backpack off the hanger.

— Okay.

—Wait, – he said, and handed me a box of Raffaello. — Can you give this to her?

The “laconic” author (here: “laconic” hero) is a godsend for the reader and an indicator of prose mastery.

Sometimes there are stories in which the author writes the exposition in detail. The story “Instead of a thousand words” perfectly illustrates why this is not necessary. Reading it leaves a cloying taste of raffaello sweets mixed with pineapple in the mouth. One cannot help but feel bitter about the fact it is so hard to understand each other, and want to think about how everything was, how everything could be, and how everything will be, but above all, joy there are authors who write stories like this.

I recommend reading it!

Manshuk Kali is a graduate of Open Literature School of Almaty (prose seminar), a student of the Moscow playwright Olzhas Zhanaydarov. Finalist of “Drama.KZ 2019” festival. Published in the almanac “Literary Alma-Ata”, in the “Tamyr” and “Druzhba Narodov” literary magazines.

Alina Gatina is a novelist, literary editor. Graduated from the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow, Department of Prose. Laureate of the First President of Kazakhstan Foundation’s literary prize “Altyn Tobylgy”.

“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.

“Loyalty to yourself vs loyalty to others”: A review of Valeria Krutova’s stories by Veronica Voronina

Translated by Alyona Timofeyeva

Valeria Makeeva (pseudonym Valeria Krutova) is a Kazakhstani novelist and children’s writer. Valeria started publishing relatively recently — in 2019, and immediately proved herself as a good regular author of the well-known literary magazines “Druzhba narodov” and “Unost’”. Her texts appeared in the literary magazines “Autograph”, “Litterratura”, “Formaslov”, “Dactyl”, in the LiterraNova almanac, and in the collection of prose “The Road without End”. Valeria was in a long list of the FICSHN35 Literary Prize (2020) and was a finalist of the literary prize “Danko” (2021).

Male-female relationships usually are the center of most of Valeria Krutova’s stories. She has a masterful command of the word, a special linguistic flair. This becomes evident already in the very first collection of her stories “They love me” (“Druzhba narodov”, No. 9, 2019). As the prose writer Alina Gatina (“Dactyl”, No. 4, 2020) said about this collection:

The collection “They Love me” is also a game letter, where the author is engaged in weaving meaning through the weaving of words; she juggles words, placing them in their places in a filigree way, so that the reader does not have the opportunity to jump to the next phrase without reading (read: not having mastered) the previous one.

The plots of two stories from this collection, “The So-so Bride” and “They love me. They do” call to each other. The significant theme of choosing between loyalty to oneself and loyalty to others unites them. The author presents us with two opposite views.

“The So-so Bride”

In the “The So-so Bride,” the internal conflict of the main character, on whose behalf the story is being told, takes the first place. She painfully chooses between loyalty to herself and her world and the need to be “acceptable” for the groom. The man does not see her real self behind the mask of the ideal bride; next to him she refuses herself.

The author draws the reader’s attention to how the narrator deals with secondary – unnamed – nominalizations. The main one is already contained in the title itself: “The So-so Bride”. The Russian word “nevesta” (bride) itself is of Old Slavic origin and means “unknown”, “undiscovered”. Many wedding rituals contain a reenactment of the groom not recognizing the bride. And the narrator remains truly unrecognized by her man. In addition, the word “nevesta” is phonetically consonant with the name of Vesta— the ancient Greek goddess of the family hearth. “Ne-Vesta” (not-Vesta) indicates that the character does not create this hearth.

Another secondary nominalization relates to the metaphor of the caught fish. At first, the main character compares herself to a fish pulled out of the water. And then a man calls her a “fish”, reinforcing this comparison.

I am a fish. I open and close my mouth. There is not enough air. I’m waiting for someone to hit me on the head with something heavy. And they will let you go.

And let go.

– Fish, dear, I’ll come early.

The fish as a symbol associates with dumbness, with the absence of a voice — the So-So Bride does not speak about herself out loud, does not insist on her own, the groom does not hear her. Two nominations — “(So-so) bride” and “fish” – complement each other, adding another dimension to the image of the character. The story ends with the fact that the narrator eventually chooses herself and loyalty to her own world, and not to a man.

“They love me. They do.”

In the story “They love me. They do.” the situation is exactly the opposite. The narrator has lost herself, her internal compass so much that she misinterprets as love a number of toxic, dysfunctional relationships first in her family, and then in her own life. She endures beatings, humiliation and depreciation, finding excuses for rapists and remaining faithful to them, not to herself.

Nominalizations/labels also play an important role in this story. The main character’s name is Lyuba (in Russian “love” is Lyubov’ – both the noun and a woman’s name). And she repeats all the time like a mantra: “They love me. They do.” – speaking of those who destroy her. It’s like she’s talking herself into it. And also: “Fear appears where there is no love”. But Lyuba never becomes Love-Luybov’ during the story. There is really no love. There is only a lie that covers up and justifies violence: “If he beats you, it means he loves you.” Lyuba lies on behalf of her loved ones; Lyuba’s lies to herself. Long-term stress results in constant tears, anxiety, fear and self-destructive behavior (alcohol, self-harm).

The character’s husband’s name is Vladik. The name Vlad is also of Slavic origin, meaning “possessor’, “lord”. But the author attaches the diminutive suffix “-ik” to it. And here we have a petty tyrant, asserting himself by means of domestic violence and insults to his wife.

– Lyuba! Have you been drinking again?! – my dear shouts. Worried about me.

– Yes, when should I drink? Look, everything is clean at home, dinner is here. When should I drink? – I am smiling, I know how good it will be for me now. I’ll finally feel how much he needs me. How he loves me…

And I feel it. I feel it! I feel it with my whole body. He hits me in the face. And kicks even then.

Lyuba “accidentally” breaks a large mirror. One of the symbolic meanings of the mirror is a person’s knowledge of herself, introspection, self-identification. The character does not want to see herself and her life as it is.


The plots of the stories overlap. Their characters are, in a sense, twins. Lyuba may well have been a so-so bride herself, one who had made a different choice and still married the “perfect groom”, relinquishing her own world. One who ignored all the alarm bells.

Who should one really be loyal to? What if those to whom we are loyalm destroy us? Valeria Krutova’s answer is unequivocal:

And what is the main thing in love? Loyalty…

That’s it, without pathos. However, loyalty not to a partner, but to yourself. Loyalty to the place you are in. The world you live in. (“The So-so bride”)

Valeria Krutova is a novelist and short story writer from Kazakhstan. She holds a degree in law. She took part in the 18th and 19th Young Writers’ Forums of the SEIP Foundation. Her works have been published in the journal “Friendship of Peoples”, “Youth”, in the literary online magazines “Daktil”, “Literratura”, “Formaslov,” the literary magazine “Autograph”, the literary almanac “LiterraNova”(2018) and in the prose collection “The Road without End.”

Image credit: Formaslov

Veronica Voronina graduated from the journalism faculty of Moscow State University. Research articles were published in the “Archetypal Studies” almanac, Russian Academy of Sciences’ journal “Medical Anthropology and Bioethics”. She has published prose in the “Neither Two nor one and a half’, ‘Maryinskaya Muse’, ‘Fellow Countrymen’, magazines ‘LiterraNova’, ‘Nizhny Novgorod’ almanacs, ‘Literary Festivals’, ‘Heroes and Creators’, ‘Reasonable Arguments’, ‘Transylvania’ collective collections. Journalism, literary criticism and essays – in the magazines “Formaslov”, “Velikoross”, “World of the North”, in the newspaper “Literary Russia”, on “Literary Radio”, etc. Winner of the literary contest “Without Borders-2021” (nomination “Journalism”). Diploma winner of the ‘International One-Story Contest’ on LITER-RM.RU-2019. Additional education: Open Literary School of Almaty (seminar of literary criticism and essay studies with Evgeniy Abdullaev).