Book Launch: Thirteen Steps towards the Fate of Erika Klaus By Kazat Akmatov ( Kyrgyzstan )

Organized By Hertfordshire Press

Location: Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre London

10 Mapple Street,London (51.522735, -0.137397)


This novel is the most recent book by internationally acclaimed author and National Writer of Kyrgyzstan, to be translated into English. Based on a real incident which occurred in his country some ten years ago, it also references Akmatov’s own conflict with USSR officials, who accusing him of producing anti- Russian and anti- Communist literature, censored much of his early work at the beginning of his career. The story involves the harrowing experiences of a young and very naïve Norwegian woman who has come to Kyrgyzstan to teach English to schoolchildren in a remote mountain outpost. Governed by the megalomaniac Colonel Bronza, the community barely survives under a cruel and unjust neo-fascist regime. Immersed in the local culture, Erika is initially both enchanted and apprehensive but soon becomes disillusioned as day after day, she is forbidden to teach. Alongside Erika’s story, are the personal tragedies experienced by former soldier Sovietbek , Stalbek, the local policeman, the Principal of the school and a young man who has married a Kyrgyz refugee from Afghanistan . Each tries in vain, to challenge and change the corrupt political situation in which they are forced to live. Akmatov is a gifted storyteller, whose writing is imbued with a passion for his homeland and concern over the oppression of his people. Thirteen Steps is strongly flavoured with sensitive and often poetic descriptions of the magnificent landscape, wildlife and traditional customs, such as eagle hunting, natural medicines, weddings, herding and horse polo, as well as more brutal references to the trafficking of young women, the exiled existence of Kyrgyz expelled from their country under Soviet rule, the extremity of corruption amongst the new leaders, and the employment of torture and murder as means to an end. This is a book designed to both charm and shock on many levels, and one which will undoubtedly be read again and again by its audience.