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The Eternal Wanderer

Translated by Christopher James Fort

Availability: Forthcoming
Published: 2019
Page #: x + 106
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-1568593388
notes

Quick Overview

The Eternal Wanderer interweaves history and myth as it follows two main characters that strive to understand the purpose with which God has endowed them. The first is the eponymous wanderer, a man cursed by God for refusing one of His blessed the grace of resting against the wall of his home. The wanderer, who is based on the medieval European legend of the Wandering Jew, is punished to traverse the earth forever, never knowing shelter nor companionship. Readers journey with him as he struggles to comprehend the meaning behind his punishment, visiting the 14th-century Louvre and Sulton’s mythical eternal city of Khaybar. The second character is the genetic scientist Professor Ziyo (Ziyo means intellect in Uzbek). Through his narrative, we learn of a new eternal being created by genetic engineering, and we see how this Uzbek intellectual endeavors to reconcile his empirical mind with his belief in God. Sulton leaves us to contemplate whether Ziyo accepts God or not or whether his acceptance matters at all because he and most life on earth are destroyed by an apocalypse. Ziyo’s struggle ends, while the wanderer’s continues. The apocalypse that ends the novel is not the last one.

The novel is written very much in the magical realist style for which Central Asia and the Caucasus have come to be known through writers like Chingiz Aitmatov and Fazil Iskander. However, Sulton presents a unique perspective, writing from his spiritual experiences and knowledge of Islam, which his Soviet predecessors were not allowed to address. Through a syncretism that combines Quranic stories, a knowledge of Islam local to the Ferghana valley, Christian legends, and Eurasianist mythology, Sulton suggests that all of us are, like his eternal wanderer, beings in search of a path to God. The universalism of this novel is of particular interest because it undermines both the ethno-centric nationalism and the state-enforced Islamic orthodoxy of post-Soviet Uzbekistan.

author

Isajon Sulton

Isajon Sulton was born April 6, 1967, in the village of Avazboy of Rishton district in the Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan. His father Abduraim Sultonov worked in radio broadcasting in the area, while his mother Buhajal Sultonova was a homemaker. Isajon was the first of their seven children. In 1983 he finished secondary school No. 32 with a gold medal. He matriculated into the journalism faculty of Tashkent State University (now the Uzbekistan National University) in 1985 and finished his bachelor’s degree with honors in 1990. His first publication as a writer of fiction was the novella Prayer in 1990. This story reflects the teachings and influence of Isajon’s grandfather, Sulton-ota, who worked as baker in Avazboy for many years. Just as the prophet Adam taught his sons, Sulton-ota passed down a knowledge of the language of nature and the names and peculiarities of history’s personages and events. This “language” made its way into his novels The Eternal Wanderer (Boqiy darbadar) and Ozod (the eponymous character’s name, meaning “free”). “All beings other than humans speak one language,” the caravan leader of The Eternal Wanderer tells his grandson before the storm. Likewise, the wind that guides Ozod speaks sometimes with the voice of his grandfather and sometimes with the voice of his father. His book publications include: Prayer, novella, 1990. Oydinbuloq (the name of a spring in the story), novella and stories, 1995. The Eternal Wanderer, novel and stories, 2011. Ozod, novel and stories, 2013. The Garden of Eram, novella and stories, 2014. Selected Works, in 2 volumes, 2017. His pieces have been published in Russia, Moldova, the United States, and Turkey in literary journals. In 2015 a collection of works entitled The Garden of Eram was published in Turkey as a separate book. The Writers’ Union of Uzbekistan recognized The Eternal Wanderer as the best prose work in Uzbekistan in 2011 and in 2013 the Writers’ Union recognized Ozod with an award for an annual literary contest. Sulton has been recognized in several international literary competitions. His short story “Fate” was published in the Chicago journal Leksikon in 2011 after winning its annual contest, while the short story “The Garden of Eram” won a contest organized by the literary journal Güncel Sanat (Antalya) in 2015. The story “In Search of al-Khidr” was a laureate in London’s “Open-Eurasian 2017” contest. Sulton is married with two children and resides in Tashkent.

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