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The Dancer from Khiva: One Muslim Woman's Quest for Freedom Paperback – August 5, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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...Read more ›
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.
It's a fascinating snapshot of life in the 'Stans and the racist reality of post Soviet Russia, but it needs better editing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a stunning testimony to incredible courage and boundless resilience. It is a sobering account of the ravages of poverty of course, but more than that the relentless... Read morePublished on July 26, 2012 by Sandra Olney
I just finished this book last night and thought it was written by a child. Now that I realize it was translated the words make much more sense. Read morePublished on September 19, 2011 by VPN
This is a different sort of book. It's not fiction, but it doesn't really read like a memoir either. Read morePublished on January 23, 2010 by Live2Cruise