Stories of the Great Steppe

July 11. Kazpravda

By Tatiana BEK

Stories of the Great SteppeThe anthology of modern Kazakh literature was published in the U.S.

The presentation was held in Astana by the M.Auezov Institute of Literature and Art and L.Gumilev Eurasian National University. The Anthology was published at the support of the Kazakhstan Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrisov, author of the introductory article. The Stories of the Great Steppe, The Anthology of Modern Kazakh Literature, edited by Dr. Rafis Abasov (New-York Columbia University: Cognella Academic Publishing, 2013), demonstrates to the American reader the richness and singularity of the Kazakh literature and it became a textbook in several universities in the United States.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Sarybai stressed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alongside the diplomatic activity, specifically focuses on promotion of the achievements of Kazakh culture, art and literature internationally. At the initiative of a number of diplomatic missions of Kazakhstan abroad, embassies of Kazakhstan in Turkey and Poland published “K?nge ?sh?an s???ar” (in Turkish and Kazakh), “Kyz Jibek”, “Koblandy-batyr”, the Kazakh fairy tales in Polish. In the Kasachiche Bibliothek series, works by Abai, Auezov, Tahawi Ahtanov, Abdi-Jamil Nurpeisov, Abish Kekilbayev, Herold Belger, Olzhas Suleimenov, Valery Mikhailov, Dukenbay Doszhan were published in the German language with support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Germany and the personal involvement of well-known translator and publisher, a friend of Kazakh literature and holder of Kazakh PEN-club award Leonard Koshuth. It is important in the future to translate the works of Kazakh literature into other languages from the original.

Integration of Kazakh literature into the world art is of strategic importance for the development of nationhood, intercultural dialogue and our country’s international standing, says director of the Institute of Literature and Art Ualikhan Kalizhanov in his introduction to the anthology. Professor at Columbia University Rafis Abazov compiled the Stories of the Great Steppe, embracing the Kazakh prose from Gabit Musrepov to Didar Amantay and poetry from Olzhas Suleimenov to Shomishbay Sariev. It is the first joint publication of the Institute of Literature and Art and Columbia University. It was translated into English by Sergei Levshin and Ilya Bernstein. The book is beautifully decorated and is supplied with a glossary.

The M.Auezov Institute of Literature and Art is boosting international ties, which is conductive to joint research projects with the National Science Academies and universities (Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, USA, France, Germany, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, China, Uzbekistan).

The Institute has published collective monographs “Essays on world literature on XX-XXI centuries turn”, “Literary and art dialogue”, “International ties of Kazakh literature of the independence period,” “Contemporary Foreign Literature”, “Integration processes and Kazakh literature” with involvement of experts from Germany, Russia, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, India, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Czech Republic. The book explores new translations of Abai into Russian, Korean, Belarusian, German, summarizes the study of the Kazakh literature abroad.

In the anthology of Naomi Caffee, article on the Kazakh literature, the author highlights the linguistic and cultural diversity of modern Kazakhstan literature.

Of special importance are online publications and social networks “Musaget”, online-magazine “Appolinary.” Social networks (Live Journal, Facebook, Twitter,, provide a space for informal publications. Kazakh culture and art are thereby getting increasingly recognized in the world, expanding geographically.

In Astana, Vlastimil Samek, Director of UN Public Information Department expressed his gratitude to the organizers for the invitation to the presentation, and to the heads and representatives of diplomatic missions and press attache of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Sweden, Finland, Pakistan, Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Poland, India, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, England, Chile, the European Union in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2012, we marked the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s accession to the United Nations, and this year – the 20th year of the UN presence in Kazakhstan. Publishing of the Anthology in the United States makes the Kazakh literature more accessible to English-speaking readers and brings it closer to a global world.