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The Dancer from Khiva: One Muslim Woman's Quest for Freedom Paperback – August 5, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in Yorkshire, England, Andrew Bromfield is a translator of Russian literature and an editor and co-founder of the literary journalGlas.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170507
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,684,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. Butler on September 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
I would have appreciated this book more if it was publicized accurately. I read this as an aspiring dancer, hungry for any literature on the experience of growing up in a dance-centered ethnic culture. What I got instead was a harrowing, brutal, sparse, blunt, and above all honest, memoir what it's like to be an impoverished, uneducated woman in modern Asia.

She recounts the events of her life with a matter-of-factness that seems to stem from a mixture of naivete, ignorance, and learned helplessness. A lot of horrible things happened to her, and evidence of the trauma showed up later in life. She grew into an emotionally immature, volatile, stubbornly determined woman who wanted to succeed but seemed unable to learn from her mistakes.

I came away feeling bad for her, as much for her ignorance and bad choices as for her misfortunes. This woman does not and will not have a happy life. I did not come away feeling that she'd ever find freedom--from her circumstances or from herself. I don't know how much of her voice is genuine and how much it is colored by the interpretation and editing; perhaps there's a narrative of hope and beauty in there somewhere but it did not make it onto the pages.

And the dancing? She speaks of it as an important part of her identity, yet it forms only a very small part of her life experience, and the few times she does get to dance as an adult are treated as merely asides to the story. "And then I moved to Russia, and got a stall at the market, and got all these things to sell, and one time I danced at a wedding party, and then I was cheated by my customers, and my landlord was drunk and threatening me, and the plumbing was broken, and I lost all our money, and my family was mad and yelled at me, and and and...
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Format: Paperback
Probably around a *2.5 for this autobiographical account of an Uzbek woman and her hard life (published 2004.)
Bibish describes her early life in a village near Khiva - her successful school career and her flair for dancing, but also her poor home,widespread disapproval of her dancing and two sexual assaults which she couldn't talk of .
We follow her 'escape' to Russia, her marriage and children and the awful difficulties of getting somewhere to live and to make a living as a market trader. As another reviewer observed, there isn't too much dancing, and as for her Islamic religion, Bibish never mentions it except in the constraints it put on her young life - does she abandon it completely later?
Actually Russia sounded so grim that I kept on wondering why she didn't go back home.
Certainly a harsh life, but not particularly gripping writing.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because Central Asia fascinates me, but what a tumbled up piece this is! By that, I'm not blaming the author but the translator and the editor. This book reads like the self-published story of a schizophrenic I once read, which does no justice to a spirited and educated woman like the author. I ended up with a lot of doubts about this "true" story. Why does the author refer to herself as an illiterate when she has a diploma? Where does a woman who buries two gang-rapes in silence find the guts and eloquence to stand up to a drunken landlord and crazy relatives? And I disagree with other reviewers- this woman is not a beacon of hope! She moans all the time about what bad luck she had had, and even tries to kill herself. I find her triskadecaphobia highly suspect in a Muslim culture...and she goes on about thirteens endlessly.
It's a fascinating snapshot of life in the 'Stans and the racist reality of post Soviet Russia, but it needs better editing.
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Everyone needs to know what happens in other cultures. Human right's atrocities among-st ignorance. This story tells it all, what most women from this type of culture are probably too ashamed to speak of. Bibish is an amazing women and has told her story.
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