TEAS launches imaginative work of Azerbaijani literature in London

Press Release: Modern Azerbaijan is acknowledged as a hotbed for the creative arts, and the new book The Incomplete Manuscript, in its English translation, represents the depths of imagination of one contemporary author – Professor Kamal Abdulla, Rector of Baku Slavic University. The novel was launched at the Fifth View at Waterstone’s flagship store in Piccadilly, London, on 26 November, during an event organised by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). The launch was attended by around 100 people – both from Azerbaijan and bibliophiles from across cosmopolitan London.

Taking the medieval Book of Dada Gorgud, a Turkic epic chronicling the exploits of the Oghuz tribe, as his point of departure, Professor Abdulla has also devised a first, incomplete, draft of the tales. This represents an account by the bard Dada Gorgud of an investigation to unmask a traitor amongst the Oghuz. Interwoven with this is another tale, that of Shah Ismayil Khata’i, founder and poet-ruler of the Safavid state in the early 16th century. The book has also been published in French, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese, German and Japanese.

The event was introduced by Lionel Zetter, Director, TEAS, followed by H.E. Fakhraddin Gurbanov, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, who commented: “I have a personal interest in literature, which is greatly valued in my country. Books take us to different places in new worlds. Professor Abdulla’s work is extremely important, and takes us to a past era of history, before Azerbaijan became part of the Russian Empire. The book encapsulates Azerbaijani thinking, and demonstrates their true colours. Azerbaijani people are optimists and are looking forward to a bright future. It is most apt that this launch takes place in the heart of London – there are excellent relations between the UK and Azerbaijan, particularly in oil and gas, but also in the fields of engineering, education and information and communications technologies (ICT), amongst other sectors.”

Professor Kamal Abdulla explained his work, saying: “I am very pleased about the positive manner in which my work has been received. It concerns Azerbaijani history from long before our present time. The text of the Book of Dada Gorgud is at the heart of my book. It enables readers to understand the ancient connections between Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey, and the history of my country. The characters of the book are considered heroes in Azerbaijan, but I have described them all in a realistic manner, showing their human flaws. The Incomplete Manuscript is, in fact, the first part of a trilogy. The second volume has already been translated, and the third is currently being translated.”

Anne Thompson, English translator, contextualised the book, explaining: “The work of translating The Incomplete Manuscript was extremely enjoyable for me. I had to understand the book, which is deeply rooted in Azerbaijani history, and help create the atmosphere for English-speaking readers. It has different narrators. In the sections about Shah Ismayil, Professor Abdulla frequently uses very grand phrases in elaborate language, which are most appropriate in the original Azerbaijani, yet can be difficult to translate into English. It was often tricky to know what to explain or include as a footnote, but between us we got there in the end!”

Following this, members of ALOFF Theatre gave some dramatised readings of passages from The Incomplete Manuscript.

The evening concluded with a question-and-answer session and book signing.

The Incomplete Manuscript is available from Amazon at http://bit.ly/kamalabdulla