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The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years Reprint Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0253204820
ISBN-10: 0253204828
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

French, after receiving his A.B. and M.A. from Williams College and Teachers College (Columbia University) in 1931 and 1932 respectively, went to Paris, where he studied at the Sorbonne and received a certificate in teaching French as a foreign language.

Katerina Clark is Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Reprint edition (February 22, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253204828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253204820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Aitmatov was always my favorite writer. I read almost all of his books in russian. But this is the first one I read in english. I would say, translation was excellent. This book describes ordinary working kazakh people in Sarozek, Kazakhstan. Aitmatov masterfully connects their life with the political situations as well as kazakh traditions. Aitmatov describes humanity and dignity of ordinary people who are unaware of what is going on at the space station. His SF with aliens and discovery of a new planet only enrich the main story, let readers think of humanity, role of human being, meaning of life. I would suggest to read this book everybody. You will discover Aitmatov as one of greatest writers of modern day.
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Format: Paperback
Aitmatov is a Kyrgyz writer who passed away this year. I have never heard of him or his books, but a friend recommended this book to me recently. As is usually the case with friends' recommendations, this book turned out to be a real gem.

The story takes place over the course of one day, and includes one major plot and one short sub-plot. Yedigei, a railroad worker in remote Kazakhstan, sets out to bury his old friend, Kazangap, in an old cemetery. Throughout the long journey to the cemetery, Yedigei recounts his personal history and that of the few other souls that live with him at the remote railroad station. The shorter sub-plot involves the discovery of extraterrestrial life by an American astronaut and a Soviet cosmonaut. The location of the Soviet launch site near Yedigei's station serves as the background for this science-fiction background story.

I will not go into the plot itself; it is far too elaborate and clever for me to try to summarise it in a few short paragraphs. Aitmatov paints an achingly beautiful picture of hardships of life in the remote steppes of central Asia under Soviet rule. He succeeds in describing the rich tradition and history of the local people and how their culture and practices are challenged by the laws of the Communist regime. The animal world plays a major role in the story, with Yedigei's camel, Karanar, being one of the main characters in the book. There is an ever-present criticism of the Soviet regime, but it is so subtle that the book does not become an anti-government manifest.

The sub-plot about the extraterrestrials seems, at first, to be entirely disconnected from the main story.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for people who are interested in kazhak culture and russian history. This novel delves into the mind of Burrunyi Yedigi as he makes a journey to bury his friend in an old cemetary on the steppe. Aitmatov uses these stories to make a stand against technology and point out the importance of nature and culture in every day human life. This is a good read, and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Set mostly in a small railroad crossing in Kazakhstan's Sarozak desert sometime in the latter part of the 20th-century, this novel tells the story of Burrunyi Yedigei's effort to bury his coworker and friend in the ancient cemetery used by the few people of the area. In doing so, Aitmatov mounts a subversive critique of the Soviet system that crushes traditions and unfairly persecutes people. The story is told through Yedigei, a long-suffering worker who recounts episodes from his life along with a old tales drawn from Central Asian folklore. A running subplot involves a nearby cosmodrome (presumably Baikonur), and a joint Soviet-American space station which makes contact with a utopian alien race. This seems to be an attempt to link the lives of insignificant workers with earth-shattering events, or is perhaps an allegory about the Iron Curtain vis a vis the West. Or more likely, Aitmatov is attempting to tell a story in the past (folktales), present (the burial plot), and future (space). Whatever the intent, the space material feels very awkward and anyone coming to the book for science-fiction will be disappointed.

The real core and strength of the story is the insight into the hard lives of the Kazakh rail workers and the way in which Aitmatov uses the genre trappings of Soviet Realist literature to mount a rather subversive critique of life in the USSR. We learn of the post-WWII hardship that took Yedigei and his wife Ukubala to the rail crossing, and of their daily struggle to survive there. There are plenty of other threads, most importantly the arrival of a politically suspect family looking for a place to start over, their friendship with Yedigei, the desire the wife arouses in him (echoing one of the folktales), and finally the Orwellian tragedy that takes them away.
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Format: Paperback
Rarely have I read a book so rich and wise, that speaks so knowingly of the human condition in this historical moment. A great story, with captivating stories within the main story, memorable characters, and a love for the earth and all its people, despite our follies and tragedies. This book, which somehow manages to combine naturalism, historical realism, legend and folklore, and science fiction, will emerge as a classic of the twentieth century.
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