Chingiz Aitmatov: A Biography By Iraj Bashiri Copyright, Iraj Bashiri, 2003, 2004
In Central Asia, before World War II, Tajik literature occupied the high literary plane; after the war, that position was ceded to Kyrgyz prose fiction, spearheaded by the untiring efforts of Chingiz Torekulovich Aitmatov. Aitmatov provides a noteworthy account of his own life and career in his "Craftsmanship."1 He was born on December 12, 1928, to the family of Torekul and Nagima Aitmatov in the village of Sheker (Talas Valley, Kirov district). Village tradition required that he should know seven generations of his ancestors. And he knew every single one; he knew what each had accomplished and how he or she was perceived by the community.2 The Aitmatov family was closely knit. Chingiz Aitmatov's paternal grandmother was his closest friend as well. To teach him about Kyrgyz culture, she took the boy to traditional jailus (field festivities), weddings, and funeral repasts (osh).3 Aitmatov also accompanied her to meetings with storytellers, bards, and akin singers. Today, he draws regularly on those rare experiences as his writing weaves a masterful tapestry of Kyrgyz traditions and legends embellished by new Soviet colors. His family's attempts to rise above poverty had been unsuccessful; bai-feudal tyrants, unpredictable political turns, and bad luck having been the culprits. Aitmatov's father, Torekul Aitmatov (1903-1937) was born into a middle class peasant family on the bank of the Kurkureu River. He graduated from high school (gymnasium) in 1917 and was elected secretary of the Committee of the Poor in 1920. Between 1924, when he joined the Bolshevik Party, and 1935, when he was sent to Moscow to study at the Institute of Red Professorship, he worked in a number of positions in the Party apparatus. In 1937, Aitmatov senior, one of the first Kyrgyz communists, a well-versed literary figure and a politician, is liquidated on charges of "bourgeois nationalism."4...
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