Culture, Life, Asia - Pacific

Famed Kyrgyz writer Aitmatov remembered on 13th death anniversary

His relatives, colleagues, admirers visit Chingiz Aitmatov's grave in Bishkek to commemorate him

Nazir Aliyev Tayfur   | 10.06.2021
Famed Kyrgyz writer Aitmatov remembered on 13th death anniversary

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan 

Thursday marks the 13th anniversary of the death of world-famous Kyrgyz author Chingiz Aitmatov.

His relatives, colleagues and admirers visited the writer’s grave in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek to commemorate him.

Aitmatov was born on Dec. 12, 1928 in the village of Sheker near the Chinese border in Kyrgyzstan.

His father was arrested in 1937 and executed on charges of bourgeois nationalism, one of the hostile ideologies for communists of that era, by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin when Aitmatov was just 9 years old.

He was brought up by his wise paternal grandmother who told him stories from the Manas Epic.

He started his education in Moscow, but had to drop out of school at the eighth grade when the World War II broke out in 1939.

Aitmatov moved to Jambul, Kyrgyzstan in 1946 following the war, studied at a veterinary school, and graduated at the top of his class. He also received an honors degree in 1953 from the Frunze Agricultural Institute.

Blending Kyrgyzstan's folk stories with modern literature, Aitmatov penned successful articles in both Russian and Kyrgyz languages in newspapers in 1952 and was accepted to the Soviet Writers' Union in 1957 with his works.

His novel Jamila was translated into French by poet Louis Aragon, who called it "the most beautiful love story in the world," providing the author with more recognition worldwide.

Aitmatov started to work for Russian newspaper Pravda as its reporter in Kyrgyzstan.

Tales of Mountains and Steppes, a fiction book published in 1963, brought him the Lenin Prize.

He wrote his first novel The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years in 1980.

In addition to his literary work, Aitmatov also worked as the member of the Soviet Union Parliament in 1966-1989.

After the independence of Kyrgyzstan, Aitmatov served as Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to several European countries – Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Besides serving as one of the five advisors to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he was also appointed as the UNESCO representative of Kyrgyzstan in 1996 by Kyrgyzstan’s founding President Askar Akayev as a cultural ambassador.

The famous author, whose works were translated into 176 languages and published in 128 countries, received numerous awards including India's Jawaharlal Nehru award in 1985, the Academy Award of the Japanese Institute of Oriental Philosophy in 1988, and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 1994.

After getting sick in Tatarstan’s capital Kazan during a trip to the city in 2008, Aitmatov was taken to Germany for treatment and died on June 10.

Aitmatov got married to Maria Urmatova in 1981 and had three sons and a daughter with her.

Upon his will, Aitmatov was buried in Ata Beyit cemetery where his father is also buried.

The International Organization of Turkic Culture declared 2018 the year of remembrance on the 90th anniversary of Aitmatov' birth, the biggest present of the Kyrgyz nation to the Turkic world and the world literature.

The author's wife also died at age 79 due to coronavirus in Bishkek on April 4, 2021.

His major works are: Jamila (1958), The First Teacher (1962), Farewell, Gyulsary! (1966), The White Ship (1970), The Red Scarf (1970), The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years (1980) and The Scaffold (1988).

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