Best books about Kyrgyzstan and
by Kyrgyz authors.
Restless Valley – Philip Shishkin
Philip Shishkin spent several years in Kyrgyzstan in a time of serious upheaval. He witnesses 2 revolutions as well as the aftermath of the Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan. For anyone who wants to know more about what happened in those storied days: this is the book.
Shishkin’s focus is on the links between politics, organised crime and corruption. He has the inside scoop on the dirty deals of the Akaevs and the Bakiyevs, the Manas airbase shenanigans, the ethnic cleansing in Osh and a live report of the looting of the White House.
Jamilia – Chingiz Aitmatov
The most beautiful love story in the world? Probably not, but Jamilia, written by Kyrgyzstan’s national poet, is a good story, and one that evokes the life and landscape of the Kyrgyz people very well. Chingiz Aitmatov has written a lot of books, but start your foray into Kyrgyz literature with this classic: it’s short and packs a punch.
Coffee table books
Most coffee table books you find lying around the book shops in Bishkek have decent pictures but terrible translated text. The only one I have found so far that transcends the average is the one by Claudia Antipina.
Kyrgyzstan – Claudia Antipina
Eye-catching, sumptuous pictures of Kyrgyz people in traditional settings. The book focuses on the costume and dress of Kyrgyz people, led by the research of ethnographer Antipina.
Kyrgyz Republic (Odyssey Guides) – Rowan Stewart
This is the most complete guide to Kyrgyzstan. The drawback is that it is last updated in 2008. Another issue is the lack of detailed travel info.
If you think you know everything about Kyrgyzstan, you should get this book: plenty of corners discussed here that you likely have not visited yet. For everybody else, the Bradt Guide is a better alternative.
Bradt Guide to Kyrgyzstan – Lawrence Mitchell
Not entirely as thorough as the Odyssey guide, the Bradt Guide however is much more up to date, and excels in the practical travel info that is sometimes lacking in the Odyssey Guide. Rowan Stewart might tell you where to go, but not how to get there. The Bradt Guide does a much better job at this.
The White Ship by Chingiz Aitmatov
The Place of the Skull by Chingiz Aitmatov
Farewell Gul'sary by Chingiz Aitmatov
The First Teacher by Chingiz Aitmatov
This Is Not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg
Women and Gender Relations : The Kyrgyz Republic in Transition by Armin Bauer
The Tulip Revolution: Kyrgyzstan One Year After by Erica Marat
Life At the Edge of the Empire: Oral Histories of Soviet Kyrgyzstan by Sam Tranum
100 Letters Home: My Two Years in Kyrgyzstan by Emily Ross
I Drank My Tea: Family Adventures in Kyrgyzstan by Mary Atwood
A Generation at Risk by Armin Bauer
Over the Edge by Greg Child
Kyrgyzstan by Claudia Antipina
Backpacks and Bra Straps by Savannah Grace
Cranes Fly Early by Chingiz Aitmatov
The Faint-Hearted Hare and Other Kyrgyz Folk Tales by Oksana Vasilenko
Hunted Through Central Asia: On the Run from Lenin's Secret Police
Kyrgyz and the Forbidden Book by R. Hewitt
Kyrgyz Legends by Oksana Vasilenko
The Last Secrets of the Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Marco Polo by Horse & Camel
The Little Soldier by Chingiz Aitmatov
Manas by P. Kazybaev,
Manas - Lost & Found: A Bridge Linking Kyrgyzstan's Epic to Ancient Oracles
Manas: The Great Campaign: Kirghiz Heroic Epos by Walter May
The Memorial Feast for Kokotoy-Khan: A Kirghiz Epic Poem by A.T. Hatto
The Place of the Skull by Chingiz Aitmatov
Mother Earth And Other Stories by Chingiz Aitmatov
Revolution Baby by Saffia Farr
Roaming Kyrgyzstan: Beyond the Tourist Track by Jessica Jacobson
The Silken Thread by Elizabeth Burns
Singing the Kyrgyz Manas: Saparbek Kasmambetov's Recitations of Epic Poetry
Thieves of Honour by Kent Mathieson
This Is Bishkek Baby by Fogarty Wells
uonanotte, signor Lenin by Tiziano Terzani
A Historical Atlas of Kyrgyzstan by Aisha Khan
Historical Dictionary of Kyrgyzstan by Rafis Abazov
A Killing Winter by Tom Callaghan (1st book in Inspector Akyl Borubaev series)
Kyrgyzstan: Central Asia's Island of Democracy? by John Anderson
The Reluctant Hero by Michael Dobbs
Sixteen Months of Mutton: Meat-Eating Journeys Through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia
A Spring Betrayal by Tom Callaghan