”Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes” by Guzel Yakhina – could the life in a Gulag be better than the life with your own family?

”Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes”

Have anybody ever thought that life in a Gulag in Siberia could be much better than in your own home with your own family? Sounds unimaginable, but that’s Zuleikha’s reality when she is brought far far away from her homeland the Tatar village of Ulbash. Zuleikha, a young Tatar, Muslim, illiterate woman lives with her husband, 30 years older man than her, together with her evil mother-in-law enduring every day their severe attitude and regular punishments. She thinks everything that happens to her is normal and that she was lucky to get married and to have food to eat and wood to warm up the house. Until the day the communists come to her village and put her on a train together with other people she does not know speaking Russian, a language she barely understands. That’s her new home, that’s her new family. All of them end up in Siberia where they have to re-start their lives again and build up a new GULAG. For Zuleikha, that’s where it all began – she becomes mother and for the first time the baby does not die shortly after the delivery, she fells in love and her feelings are mutual, she feeds the village, she goes hunting, she becomes nurse and helps people to survive the severe weather conditions, she lives, breathes…….and finally opens her eyes and sees life’s beauty!

A novel about identity, religion, family values, conservatism, respect, love, political regime, education, character, skills and human nature.

One of the best I’ve ever read!




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