"Surviving in Chechnya" ("Survivre en Tchétchénie")
Published by Gallimard, Euros 26.00
Translated from the Russian by Marianne Gourg, 400 pages, Collection Témoins, Gallimard
Publication date 18 May 2006
On 4 January 1995, a few days after the deployment of hundreds of Russian tanks in the small break-away republic of Chechnya, bombers commenced their pounding of the capital, Grozny. Alone in his house in Grozny's suburbs, under the bombardment, Sultan Yachurkayev began to write his journal.
Between visits to his animals from his icy, half-destroyed building, alternating between the tragic and the comic, from a simple detailing of the destruction to indignation, he describes the looting and murders, records the conversations with the two neighbours who remained, details the shortages, the nights without sleep, occasional visits into the city. He supplements the narrative with history, anecdotes, memories, and the daily details of his existence. Without books, without anything, he survives. This is a story of an intellectual, a fine poet, a man of wide learning, who has the opportunity to reflect.
Beneath the bombing, he thinks about Chechnya and Russia, about Europe and these far-flung fragments of Europe, the countries of the Caucasus. The reader learns of the sequence of events that led up to war - and understands better the spirit of resistance of a people that has been persecuted for centuries.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Surviving in Chechnya
Jeremy Putley translates the announcement of a new French language publication on the conflict in Chechnya: