Hamid Ismailov with Shelley Fairweather-Vega
Let us count our blessings where and when we can. One of the countless casualties of all the sudden closures and cancellations due to Covid’s deadly arrival a year ago was a planned reading by Seattle translator Shelley Fairweather-Vega of renowned, exiled Uzbek novelist and poet Hamid Ismailov’s recent novel, Gaia, Queen of Ants (Syracuse University Press). No one was set up to do anything but cancel programs late last March a year ago. Now, lo and behold, the Age of Zoom that so many of us have been dwelling in since later last year, and we are gratefully able to now present this remarkable novel, with the author himself, Hamid Ismailov, joining us from London, in addition to Shelley Fairweather-Vega here in Seattle. Gaia, Queen of Ants is set in London, a tale of refugee exiles from Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia and eastern Europe making their way to a sense of belonging and knowing home.
"Reading Uzbek author Hamid Ismailov’s latest novel, Gaia, Queen of Ants, translated by Shelley Fairweather-Vega, is like falling head first into a cauldron filled with a rich blend of mythology, Sufi fables, politics, various cultures and humour."—The National.
"The cast of characters is charming, from the elderly emigrants from the former Soviet now living in Britain, to the artists and holy men of Central Asia. Gaia is deliciously manipulative but her own history as a young woman also evokes some sympathy for her."—Bruce Pannier.
Hamid Ismailov has written numerous works of fiction and English that have been published in Uzbek, Russian, French, Turkish, German, and other languages. Thanks to Shelley Fairweather-Vega, English joins the ranks of those languages.