HIS-01
Author-Critic Forum: Hagiography vs. Reality. An outsider writing an insider story

Convenors:
Jeffrey Lilley (American Councils for International Education)
Sean Roberts (The George Washington University)
Chair:
Sean Roberts
Discussant:
N/A
Theme:
HIS
Location:
IMES Room 512
Sessions:
Thursday 10 October, 13:00-14:45

Abstract:

Have the Mountains Fallen: Two Journeys of Loss and Redemption in the Cold War, written by former journalist and development professional Jeffrey Lilley and published by Indiana University Press in 2018, examines the tumultuous 20th century in Kyrgyzstan. The book does this by telling a compelling tale through the lives of two prominent Kyrgyz figures, famous Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov and his less well-known compatriot exile radio broadcaster Azamat Altay. Some have called the book "a story of the Cold War from the other side." One American reviewer wrote that the intertwined story of the two men "is that of Kyrgyzstan itself, replete with tragedy and sacrifice, hope and triumph." The book presents history through the eyes of a foreigner, and for this reason it has caused discussion in Kyrgyzstan, with some praising the author for "telling our history in a way we can't" and others criticizing it for positoning the two men as equals. So what exactly is the worth of HMF? How is it helpful to the Central Asian canon in the West? And what is its impact in Kyrgyzstan, where it is being translated into Kyrgyz and published through a crowd-funding campaign, the first of its kind in the country? This author-critic forum proposes to gather academics from the West and Kyrgyzstan to discuss these topics.