This is the landscape from which A Poet and Bin-Laden, the new book by acclaimed BBC Writer in Residence, Hamid Ismailov, emerges. A novel in form, A Poet and Bin-Laden weaves an intricate story drawn from Ismailov’s decades of reporting from Taliban controlled Afghanistan and his experiences as an Uzbek exile in the United Kingdom.
Fiction is intertwined with documentary, as Ismailov provides wonderfully vivid accounts of historical events such as the siege of Kunduz, the breakout from Shebergan prison, and the insurgency in the Ferghana Valley as witnessed by the Byronian figure of Belgi, a poet who enters the inner sanctum of al-Qaeda, and ultimately meets Sheikh bin Laden himself.
“…The real achievement of A Poet and Bin-Laden,” writes journalist Hugh Barnes in the preface, “is an imaginative one – this is a very powerful story about the forces of extremism in human nature, good and evil, poetry and terror.”
Translated to English for the first time by renowned translator Andrew Bromfield and backed by English PEN and Arts Council England, A Poet and Bin-Laden has already garnered international attention, drawing in both the curious reader and certain national security agencies, interested in how closely reality and fiction have intertwined in the book.
Hamid Ismailov (born 1954, Kyrgyzstan) is an Uzbek journalist and writer who was forced to flee Uzbekistan in 1992 and came to the United Kingdom, where he took a job with the BBC World Service as the Head of Central Asia and Caucasus Service and their first Writer in Residence. For the BBC, he has covered Islamic radicalism in in Central Asia and in Afghanistan, traveling to Talibani Afghanistan to interview their elite. Hamid has been published in Uzbek, Russian, French, German, and Turkish. Currently, his works are banned in Uzbekistan. He is an award winning novelist and A Poet and Bin Laden is supported by grants from English PEN and Arts Council England.
A Poet and Bin-Laden will be released September 1, 2012 by Glagoslav Publications
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