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Yet-unpublished stories and poems from Central Asia (and elsewhere!)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


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.

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 Shoquan Walikhanov as well as individual poems.


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; Book 2 is already published and Book 3 is being written now.

Amanat: Women’s Writing from Kazakhstan

Selected and translated by Zaure Batayeva and Shelley Fairweather-Vega

Short fiction collection, est. 68,000 words
Forthcoming from Gaudy Boy, July 2022

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.

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.

Zhumadilov's 2019 story collection
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.


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.

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
In final edits. 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.