Days in the Caucasus by Banine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Assadoulaeff was a French writer of Azeri descent - a granddaughter of
two famous Azeri millionaire Musa Nagiyev and Shamsi Assadullaev, a
daughter of Azerbaijani businessman and politician Mirza Asadullayev.
This is her memoir of her childhood in Azerbaijan, in the early decades
of the 20th century. Fascinating stuff, and an interesting way to look
at some of the history of a region I know very little about.
also interested in the translation history - Banine wrote this in French
and published it in Paris in 1945. And guess who "blurbed" or reviewed
it - Teffi! If you loved Teffi, you will probably enjoy this. It was
only translated into the English much more recently, and was published
in the UK in 2019 and only March 2021 in the United States.
21st century perspective, there are some unsurprising problematic
elements, from fatphobia to transphobia, anti-Christian and anti-western
sentiments, jokes about the Armenian genocide (and a bit of apologist
defense since the Azeri view is that the Armenians killed a bunch of
Azeris....) The depiction of Islamic practice may also be seen by some
to be insulting - Banine converted to Christianity before publishing
this book, and she is very critical of her family's observances (or lack
there of, or ways they wiggled around the rules.) Still I found it
interesting to see a child's eye view of Islam in a very wealthy but not
too conservative country.
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