FairVega

Translation Work in Progress


Yet-unpublished stories and poems from Central Asia (and elsewhere!)

The authors of the books listed here have entrusted me to translate their work into English, and I'm eager to finish the job. Please email me for a sample of any of these translations or to learn more.

My most recent publications are at the bottom of this page.

Russian Matryoshka

By Hamid Ismailov
Epic novel in 6 parts (Russia/Uzbekistan)
Translation funded by Arts Council England. Seeking publisher

Renowned Uzbek author-in-exile Hamid Ismailov returns with his most ambitious project to date: an Uzbek take on the classic Russian novel, with a post-modern twist. More than one twist, to be precise. In 6 books of diminishing size, we experience the bohemian youth of writer Xamid in 1970s Soviet Tashkent; the odyssey of an older man, Georgy, spanning most of the Russian/Soviet 20th century; the career of Georgy’s true love, Lizzy, a professor in England; the mystery of Tsar Alexander I and the hermit Fyodor Kuzmich, who may have been one and the same; the story behind Prince Oleg’s selection of a religious creed for Ancient Rus’; and a post-Soviet tale of political upheaval and dastardly crime. Throughout, Xamid’s life and work is presented in contrast to that of his lost friend Oleg, who once wrote his own masterful novel, but burned it. As Xamid consciously and unconsciously recreates Oleg’s lost masterpiece, this pattern of X and O, opposites and reflections, substitutions and absences, connects all the diverse styles and stories in the book. Translation scheduled for completion early autumn 2022

Stigmalion cover

Stigmalion

By Kristina Stark

Young adult novel, est. 130,000 words
First chapter complete. Partially funded, seeking publisher

Young adult suspense master Kristina Stark presents her first novel to be translated into English: the disturbing but ultimately hopeful tale of Dolores MacBride, a young woman with a devastating allergy to the human touch. Navigating adolescence is even more difficult when a handshake, a kiss, an embrace can kill you. A quick-moving meditation on disability, love, and risk, Stigmalion was a bestseller when it came out in Russian in 2018. Translation scheduled for completion early spring 2023. Read about this book in Russian

Mothersland

Mothersland

By Shahzoda Nazarova Samarqandi

Novella (Uzbekistan), est. 38,000 words
Translation complete and partially funded, seeking publisher

This haunting novel is a time-twisting reverie on the bond between mothers and daughters. Growing up in late-Soviet-era Uzbekistan, Mahtab feels more at home in the cotton fields – and in the past, as depicted in her mother’s diary – than at school, where the books in the library are rewritten with every new political trend. When a Russian film crew comes to town to make a movie about cotton, starring Mahtab in the role of her hero-worker mother, Mahtab suffers an accident that scrambles her memory. As she struggles to recover, she must untangle her mother’s story from her own, and navigate the hazy contours of memory, love, storytelling, and country to finally find herself. Translated from Tajik to English through Youltan Sadykova’s lyrical Russian version. Read more

Shoqan Walikhanov and Rena Zhumanova

Fiberglass and Sonnets to Shoqan Walihanov

Poems by Rena Zhumanova

Poetry (Kazakhstan)
Samples available, seeking publishers 

Rena Zhumanova’s verses burst with originality and individuality, relishing in rhyme, irony, and cross-cultural identity crises. Her multilingual, multicultural writing manages to be playful and sharp, sentimental and insightful, often all at the same time. Seeking publication for a chapbook of 20 sonnets dedicated to the life and questionable legacy of Kazakh-Russian explorer Shoqan Walihanov as well as individual poems. Read sample translations

Oral Arukenova

Bilingual poetry collection

Poems by Oral Arukenova

Poetry (Kazakhstan)
Samples available, seeking publishers 

Thirty new poems by a bilingual Kazakhstani master of spare, thoughtful verse. Arukenova’s poetry and short prose have been translated into English and published in The Brooklyn Rail (2020), Suspect (2022), and Amanat (2022), and her latest poetry collection is ready for translation. From Asel Omar’s introduction: “Oral Arukenova is not afraid to ask questions, and that is where her power lies… Oral posits that every person has their own political and social sensibilities, their own sense of danger and beauty. But are our concepts of these things absolute? No: there is humanism, something big enough to transcend all these boundaries.” Read previously published translations

Metamorphoses of a Dream

By Sharif Ahmedov

Essays on literature (Uzbekistan), est. 160 pages
Title essay published, seeking publisher for individual essays or collection

Sharif Ahmedov is the translator of Jorge Luis Borges into Uzbek. Inspired by that experience, Ahmedov wrote this cycle of metamorphoses, exploring the interconnection – and disconnects – between cultures, dreams, masterpieces, and creative genius, not to mention uninvited visitors, illness, and other more mundane misfortunes. Ahmedov presents his thoughts in a smart but accessible way that is sure to charm readers eager to glimpse the view from his unique vantage point at a previously uncharted cultural crossroads. Read a published sample

The Last Hope Foundation

By Lilya Kalaus
Novel (Kazakhstan), est. 93,000 words
Sample translated, seeking publisher

Asya can handle her abusive stepfather, layoffs at work, and the debauchery of a corporate retreat with her wacky coworkers. She can probably even cope with the homicidal ghost in Room 4. But can she survive a slowly budding romance with a sophisticated stranger from Moscow? Critic Maia Stavitskaya calls Kalaus’s writing “A bewitching word game careening freely through a four- or five-dimensional universe of words and expressions that are paradoxically both thoroughly carnal and extremely meaningful.” The Last Hope Foundation was partly inspired by the author’s experience working for the Soros Foundation Kazakhstan. It was longlisted for the prestigious Russian Prize in 2010. Read more

Zhumadilov's 2019 story collection

Escape from Tarim

By Qabdesh Zhumadilov

Novella (Kazakhstan/Xinjiang), est. 32,000 words
First three chapters translated, seeking publisher 

One of Kazakhstan’s most celebrated writers, Zhumadilov was born in China and emigrated to the Soviet Union with approximately 200,000 of his countrymen in the spring of 1962. This novella tells a fictionalized version of that remarkable story. In Xinjiang Province, China in the early 1960s, when ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs in China’s western provinces were being herded into prison camps on suspicion of nationalism and espionage, the young Kazakh intellectual Baglan and his uncle Shaiky escape the camp at Tarim and make their way across the border into Soviet Kazakhstan. With the new wave of Uyghur persecution in Xinjiang in recent years, and with ethnic unrest threatening the peace in Kazakhstan, this story feels all the more relevant today. At the same time, it demands comparison with Soviet prison literature, forcing us to compare Chinese and Siberian prison camps from the point of view of a people caught in between two foreign, authoritarian systems.

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Batu and the Search for the Golden Cup

By Zira Naurzbayeva and Lilya Kalaus

Children’s adventure (Kazakhstan), est. 60,000 words
Contract signed for 2023 publication

When the Golden Warrior on Batu’s notebook cover comes to life and sends him on a vitally important mission, he has to go, of course – even if it means taking his baby sister along, battling monsters, and fighting off the school bully all at the same time. This book is the first in a series; Books 2 and 3 are already published, and Book 4 is being written now.

Amanat

Amanat: Women’s Writing from Kazakhstan

Selected and translated by Zaure Batayeva and Shelley Fairweather-Vega

Short fiction collection, est. 68,000 words
Now available from Gaudy Boy – Purchase now!

Winner of a RusTrans bursary for translation and promotion

From the editors: Kazakhstan is the largest country by landmass to emerge from the breakup of the Soviet Union aside from Russia itself, but it has had an undersized impact on world literature. Its rich oral storytelling tradition has so far gone largely unrecorded outside the Kazakh and Russian languages. This project is meant to be more than a collection of attractive literary gems; because it comes from Kazakhstan, a place where good writing often struggles to be recognized, we feel we have a moral obligation to showcase this work—not as an additional accolade for world-renowned artists, but as an urgent report to the English-speaking world that these authors and their work do, in fact, exist.

The RusTrans research project at University of Exeter is funding the translation of two stories in Amanat as part of its project to study the publication of Russian-language literature in translation. Stories from this anthology have been published in English by Words Without Borders, Best Asian Short Stories 2019, and Singapore Unbound.

Not looking for Central Asian literature right now? Read on for something completely different!

The As*trobiologists

By Olga Gromyko and Andrei Ulanov
Comedy space opera (Belarus), 152,000 words
Published October 2021 – order here!

Seeking publisher or sponsor for self-publishing for subsequent books in the series.

Happily retired space commando Stanislav wakes up from a night of drunken revelry to find he has mortgaged his apartment to buy a spaceship—and as if that’s not enough, he has also signed a contract to transport a crew of space biologists to a very distant planet. What else could possibly go wrong? Cyborgs, runaway robofoxes, and space pirates, for starters.