LONDON – Three people from Kazakhstan were named winners in the second Open Central Asia Book Forum & Literature Festival (OCAF), held from Nov. 7-11 in London and Cambridge, U.K. Following the first event, held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in 2012, organisers focused on bringing the works of Central Asian authors and illustrators to the U.K. to give local audiences a taste of the region’s talent.
Kazakhstan’s three winners in the competition that highlighted the event were David Mashuri, who won first place in the translation category for his translation of “Mother’s Will,” a novel by his own mother, from Uighur into Russian, and Assol Bilyalova and Hashim Kurban, who won first and third places, respectively, in the illustrations category.
Other winners included Abdulla Isa of Azerbaijan, Turusbek Maldibaev of Kyrgyzstan and Halima Ahmedova of Uzbekistan for literature; Saadat Ibrahimova and Ian Peart of Azerbaijan and the U.K. and Rahima Abduvalieva of Germany and Kyrgyzstan in translation and Irina Gogol of Kyrgyzstan for illustration.
As in the first event in 2012, competitions were held in three categories: literature, translation and illustration. This year, 168 submissions were made across the three categories, more than a quarter of which came from the people in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan increased its participation from five submissions in 2012 to 48 this year, the most from any one country in the event, according to organisers.
Isa, first place winner of this year’s literature competition, will have his work published by Hertfordshire Press as part of his prize, as did the winner of the 2012 competition, Galina Dolgaya from Uzbekistan. It is hoped that this tradition will be continued in next year’s competition, and the committee encourages both existing and new participants to apply.
Hertfordshire Press is a U.K. publishing house, part of the Silk Road Media group of companies that seeks to publish books and authors with a special focus on Central Asia. Hertfordshire Press sponsored the entirety of the second OCAF. In addition to Silk Road Media and Hertfordshire Press, the festival was organised and also supported by the Yunus Emre Centre in London, the BBC Central Asia Service, Orzu Arts, Navruz Restaurant, the Cambridge Central Asia Forum, Open Central Asia Magazine and the Cambridge University Kazakhstan Society.
This year’s guest speakers at the festival’s various events in central London were mix of people from all over Central Asia and those interested in the region. They included Nick Rowan (U.K.), Erkin Agzam (Uzbekistan), Hamid Ismailov (U.K.-Central Asia) Shahsanem Murray (U.K.) presenting Begenas Sartov of Kyrgyzstan, Svetlana Rakhimova (U.K.-Uzbekistan), Laura Hamilton (U.K.) presenting Kazat Akmatov of Kyrgyzstan, Robin Thompson (U.K.) presenting Galina Dolgaya of Uzbekistan, Mevlut Ceylan (U.K.-Turkey), Ak Welsapar (Sweden–Turkmenistan), Rakhima Abduvalieva (Germany-Kyrgyzstan), Chokan Laumulin (U.K.-Kazakhstan), Alexey Ulko (Uzbekistan), Felicity Timcke (South Africa), David Mashuri (Kazakhstan) and Dinara Bakhritdinova, also known as Frau Koch (Uzbekistan).
Organisers are considering holding the event in Astana, Kazakhstan, next year. According to publisher and main organiser of the OCAF Marat Akhmedzhanov, this will depend on the willingness of the city to host it. “When we organised this event for the first time Bishkek in 2012, we were supported with great enthusiasm. This year, the event was supposed to take place in Baku; however, we decided to take it back to where we are based and introduce a bit of Central Asian culture to the U.K.”