’s recent translation of Abdullah Qodiriy’s 1920s novel O’tkan Kunlar
) brings an exemplary piece of modern Uzbek literature to English-speaking audiences. The story, which simultaneously follows the personal story of a Muslim reformer and trader and the court struggles between the rulers of Central Asia, gives us a glimpse into early Soviet Central Asia, as well as the world of Central Asia on the eve of 19th-century Russian Imperial conquest. Yet, Qodiriy’s Bygone Days
is much more than that; it addresses universal themes of cultural and political change, the place of tradition in societies, questions of reform and revolution, to name a few. Reese’s wonderful translation offers an opportunity to learn more about Uzbekistan past and present and offers something for anyone interested in Central Asia, literature, or the triumphs and tragedies of modernizing societies.
Nicholas Seay is a PhD student at The Ohio State University.