"Kazakhstan Fairytales"

Reading and discussion with Yuri Serebryanski

Yuriy Serebryansky, © Yelena Petrova.

Kazakhstan is the most ethnically diverse state in the post-Soviet space. This Central Asian country is home to more than 120 nationalities. President Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasises that Kazakhstan is the homeland of all the Kazakhstani people, not only ethnic Kazakhs. Nevertheless, the kazakhisation of the country – particularly in the area of language – has strongly increased in recent years, creating new challenges for relations within society. Yuri Serebryanski has devised a unique response to this challenge: with his Kazakhstan Fairytales, published in 2017, the Russian-language author of Polish descent attempts to create a body of modern folklore for all the people of Kazakhstan, regardless of nationality. To make it accessible to all the citizens of Kazakhstan, the book contains not only the original Russian texts but also Kazakh translations.

At the event, Yuri Serebryanski will present the book to a German public to the first time and read some of the fairytales. He will then be joined by ZOiS researchers Nina Frieß, a specialist in literature and cultural studies, and Central Asia expert Beate Eschment to discuss the inspiration for his book, the importance of fairytales in modern society and why these particular stories are not aimed at children.

The event will be conducted in German and Russian with simultaneous interpretation.

Yuri Serebryanski is a writer, journalist and lecturer at the Open Literature School in Almaty. He writes poetry and prose. In 2010 and 2014, his short stories won the prestigious Russian Prize for Russian-language writers living outside Russia. His writing is published in all the major Russian literary magazines, including Novy Mir, Druzhba Narodov and Znamya. He is the editor of the Polish diaspora newspaper Ałmatyński Kurier Polonijny and was chief editor of Esquire Kazachstan from 2016 to 2018.