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Author Talk: 'The Underground': Hamid Ismailov in Conversation with Oliver Ready


Hamid Ismailov, author of A Poet and Bin Laden and The Dead Lake, reads from and discusses his new novel The Underground, about an African-Russian boy growing up in Soviet Moscow, with Oliver Ready of the TLS and St Antony's College Oxford.  

In English, followed by drinks.

Doors open at 6.30pm; talk and Q&A at 7pm; drinks from 8.15pm approx; close at 9pm.

The Underground is published by Restless Books and translated by Carol Ermakova.

"Ismailov tells a haunting tale of an Afro-Russian boy's search for love. Generous in spirit yet unsparing in its honesty, The Underground illuminates a loneliness that is as devastating as it is universal. In breathtaking prose, Ismailov reminds us again and again that even the slimmest thread of light can pierce through the darkest of days."  —Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze

“One of the best Russian novels of the 21st century.”  —Continent Magazine

"Hamid Ismailov has the capacity of Salman Rushdie at his best to show the grotesque realization of history on the ground."  —Literary Review

Born in 1954 in Kyrgyzstan, Hamid Ismailov moved to Uzbekistan as a young man. He writes both in Russian and Uzbek and his novels and poetry have been translated into many European languages, including German, French and Spanish. In 1994 he was forced to flee to the UK because of his ‘unacceptable democratic tendencies’. He now works for the BBC World Service. The Railway was his first novel to be published in English in 2006, followed by A Poet and Bin-Laden in 2012. His work is still banned in Uzbekistan today.

Oliver Ready is Research Fellow in Russian Society and Culture at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he is writing a book on folly and wisdom in Russian literature of the past fifty years. Oliver’s translations include Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment for Penguin Classics (in press) and, from contemporary fiction, Before and During by Vladimir Sharov, and The Zero Train and The Prussian Bride (Rossica Translation Prize, 2005) by Yuri Buida. As Director of the Russkiy Mir Programme at St Antony’s, he runs events and conferences devoted to Russian culture. He is also Russia and East-Central Europe Editor at the Times Literary Supplement.