Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature: Elites and Narratives
By Diana T. Kudaibergenova
2017, Lexington Books, 978-1-49852-892-0, $95 hb.
Reviewed by Alva Robinson on January 15, 2020
In the early part of the 20th century, when Kazakhstan was transitioning from a Russian tsarist colonial outpost to a socialist republic in the Soviet Union, a movement of Kazakh intellectuals and political activists emerged. Known as the Alash, this group introduced the birth of both Kazakh literature and the Kazakh nation. The author, a Kazakh graduate of Cambridge University, examines the relationship of Kazakh modernity and nationalism, and the “cultural production of generations of pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet writers in Kazakhstan.” Literature became the main “channel of communication, space of cultural production and rich canvas for remembering” the past. As Kazakhstan undergoes a Kazakh literature revival nearly 30 years after its independence in 1991, the book is a timely and valuable way for readers to become more familiar with the dynamism of the Kazakh cultural landscape over the past 100 years.