By Angie Georgeff
One of the reasons I love working at the library is that I never quite know for sure what any given day will bring. Last week brought us a surprise. It was a large box that had been mailed from Great Britain. I wasn’t expecting anything to arrive from across the pond, but these days an item that you order from an American company can circumnavigate the globe to get to your front porch.
I opened the box and found two fairly hefty books nestled in a cushion of paper. The first volume was entitled “Contemporary Kazakh Literature: Prose and the second Contemporary Kazakh Literature: Poetry.” The books had traveled 4,000 miles from England, but their literary content added an extra 3,500 miles from Kazakhstan to the journey. I hadn’t ordered those books, so I was puzzled, but also intrigued.
Fortunately, a letter accompanied the shipment. Under the leadership of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, a project called “Modern Kazakh Culture in the Global World” has provided for the translation of modern Kazakh literature into six world languages and the distribution of 60,000 copies to universities, research centers and libraries around the globe. We are one of those libraries.
Decades ago, when I lived in Europe and visited the Soviet Union, I was in the country that then encompassed what is now Kazakhstan. Even so, I was no closer than 1,700 miles from its current capital Nur-Sultan. I have never set foot on the steppes of central Asia, but through Kazakhstan’s prose and poetry, I can to a degree experience the land and its people. And so can you. Literature allows us to glimpse the horsemen racing across the steppes, hear the birds singing in the trees, smell the wildflowers blowing in the breeze, feel the heat of an August afternoon and savor the love in a mother’s good home cooking.
I’m curious: Which book do you think best captures the sights and sounds of Unicoi County and the surrounding area? Many of the novels of Sharyn McCrumb might be candidates, but I’d like to know what you think. Please let us know the next time you come to the library. We will keep a tally and I’ll let you know the winner in a future column.
Our annual Halloween Film Festival continues tomorrow night with another vintage thriller. Join us at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, for popcorn, candy and a movie that brings a chilling novel to gruesome life, 1930s style. Please feel free to bring a bottle of water or your favorite soft drink to enjoy with the refreshments that we provide.