English-language Kazakh literature anthologies unveiled at British Library

LONDON, 25 September 2019 – The British Library hosted the launch of two anthologies of contemporary Kazakh literature, which have been translated into English for the first time as part of the Rukhani Zhangyru (Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s Identity) programme.

The translation of the anthologies was carried out by British specialists in literary translation. The forewords to the anthologies were written by distinguished representatives of modern British academic circles. Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council authored the foreword to the anthology of contemporary Kazakh prose, and Professor Jason Harding of Durham University wrote the foreword to the collection of contemporary Kazakh poetry.

The panel discussion on the anthologies’ launch included contributions by the Assistant to the President of Kazakhstan and Secretary of the National Commission on the implementation of the Rukhani Zhangyru programme Aida Balayeva, Ambassadors of Kazakhstan and the UK Erlan Idrissov and Michael Gifford, Chief Executive of the British Council Sir Ciarán Devane, Executive Director of the National Bureau of Translations Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, the leadership of Cambridge University Press, as well as translators, literary editors, critics and reviewers.

Ambassador Idrissov stressed that the project is of great importance in enhancing the interest of English-speaking audiences in Kazakh culture.

The Kazakh diplomat also stressed the positive development of relations between Kazakhstan and the UK, which includes strategic partnership across key areas.

Mrs. Balayeva briefed the audience on the main aspects and projects of the Rukhani Zhangyru programme, which aims to enhance Kazakhstan’s competitiveness through the comprehensive modernisation of cultural identity.

“Selected works of 60 Kazakh authors have been translated into six major languages of the world for the first time within the Rukhani Zhangyru programme. The project was implemented with the participation of leading publishing houses of the UK, China, Egypt, France, Russia, and Spain. The books will be distributed in more than 90 countries on five continents. This means that 2.6 billion people will gain access to the best examples of Kazakh literature previously inaccessible to global audiences. Drawing on the accumulated experience and support of our partners, we will continue this important cultural project. Experts are already praising the high quality of the publications, which is due to the support of our friends from Cambridge University Press and the British Council. I would like to thank our partners on behalf of Kazakhstan and our authors”, Mrs. Balayeva said.

The English-language anthologies of Kazakh prose and poetry, published by Cambridge University Press and launched in the largest national library in the world, will be delivered to more than 8,000 libraries, universities and research centres in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US, and a dozen other English-speaking countries.

“Every country faces the challenge of how to adapt and grow at a time of rapid global change and at the same time how to celebrate its culture. The Rukhani Zhangyru programme has taken up that challenge. It has recognised the need to support Kazakhs by investing not only in education and technology, but crucially in artistic and cultural heritage. These anthologies will contribute to the sharing of culture and identity within Kazakhstan. And because they are translated into the world’s most spoken and read languages, they make accessible the richness and distinctiveness of Kazakh culture to many people throughout the world”, said the Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press Peter Phillips.

Sir Ciarán highlighted that the publication marks a milestone in British, and global, understanding of Kazakh literature.

“Until now, the national trove of stories, novels, poems and plays has remained largely untranslated, unread, unsung, and unappreciated. These anthologies represent a new era. For the first time, a range of 20th century Kazakh literary voices can be read and appreciated by readers across the English-speaking world”, said the head of the British Council.

At the end of the launch ceremony, Mrs. Balayeva presented the copies of the anthologies to Luisa Mengoni, Head of the Asian collection of the British library.

The books will be accessible for free, including online, via links to PDFs and audio formats. In addition to English, the books have been published in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.


About the project:

The translation and publication of the two anthologies of contemporary Kazakh literature was carried out within the “Contemporary Kazakph Culture in the Global World” project, which is one of the pillars of the Rukhani Zhangyru programme. These are: “Anthology of contemporary Kazakh poetry” and “Anthology of contemporary Kazakh prose”. Each of the two anthologies contains about 500 pages and includes the selected works of 30 Kazakh authors.

The British Council served as the strategic partner of the project through providing expert support. Cambridge University Press was the key partner and publisher in the project. In partnership with the National Bureau of Translations, the Press implemented the full range of works on literary editing of linear translations, typesetting, printing, distribution, as well as presentation and promotion of the publications in English-speaking countries.

Created at : 26.09.2019, 10:05, Updated at : 26.09.2019, 10:05