Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One long horror story

The Dancer from Khiva is the memoir of an Uzbek woman, born in a traditional rural community in the 1960s. She escapes that life and winds up in grim post-Soviet Russia. The book is pretty much one long horror story, and yet Bibish comes through as a very appealing character. Her writing--at least as it is translated--is a bit primitive, and the narrative is haphazard, but none of that detracts much from power of the experiences she describes. This is very much a woman's book, by which I mean it expresses something fundamental about what it's like to move through the world as a woman. Bibish doesn't have a feminist consciousness at all, but she does have a very clear understanding of the way she's hindered by the "otherness" of being female. The book is definitely worth checking out, even though I disapprove of the way it's being marketed. My review in the Scene is here.

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