ASTANA – “Salem, Almaty!” (Hi, Almaty) is not only the first illustrated guide about the city of Almaty but also a declaration of love for the city, as its creators say. Made in Wimmelbuch style, the book invites adults and kids for a journey around the city sights solving exciting puzzles on each page.
Malika Kokhan, the chief editor of the Tentek Publishing House, spoke about how the book was created in an interview for this story.
“In the summer of 2022, we met Ksenia Semenova, head of publishing projects at Meloman bookstore chain. She saw what we were doing and suggested we work on preparing an illustrated book dedicated to Almaty,” said Kokhan.
According to Kokhan, the Meloman representatives had this idea for a long time, and the Tentek Publishing House agreed to realize it.
“Salem, Almaty!” was initially meant as a book about the city in an accessible, engaging, not encyclopedic way.
“It’s a book for all ages. The audience is little children who can look at pictures, the native residents of the city who want to look at the city again, as well as the visitors,” she said.
She added that the books about Kazakh cities had never been done this way.
“The illustrations and text make it a one-of-a-kind item. It does not convey as much information about the city as love for it. After reading it, you will desire to travel and wander about Almaty,” she added.
The authors aimed to avoid talking simply about the city center and instead added information about the micro districts and other places such as subway stations.
“We hope to supplement the book with stories about other districts,” added Kokhan.
According to Kokhan, much attention was paid to the merchant houses when the city was called Verny (Faithful).
“The city has a rich history, and we have a special spread in the book dedicated to merchant houses and windows,” said Kokhan.
She shared some details about the creation process.
“We first thought about the route. We marked the path of the reader on the map from top to bottom. We begin acquaintance with Medeu and gradually go down to the center,” she said.
Gulnar Nauryzbai and Sima Omarkulova, the book’s authors, shared what the city means to them.
“Gulnar is not an Almaty local. Hence her narrative was told through the eyes of a tourist. And because Sima is originally from Almaty, she has a unique perspective on the city,” said Kokhan.
Katya Bolatova made the illustrations, and, according to Kokhan, the pictures in the book represent Bolatova’s vision of the city because she was provided with total freedom to realize her ideas.
Koshan shared that they want to publish similar books about other Kazakh cities as part of the plans.
“We are beginning work on a book about Astana, and we want to dedicate such guides to other Kazakhstan cities. For example, I am from Uralsk. I want us to talk about my city, too,” she said.
“Salem, Almaty!” is available for sale in three languages – Kazakh, Russian, and English.