About The Book
When it was published in St. Petersburg, The Dancer from Khiva was hailed by Russia’s Weekly Journal as “not only a literary text, but a document of human life, one with a rare power to move.” An unflinchingly honest memoir, this true story offers remarkable insights into Central Asian culture through the harrowing experiences of a young girl.
In a narrative that flows like a late-night confession, Bibish recounts her story. Born to an impoverished family in a deeply religious village in Uzbekistan, Bibish was named “Hadjarbibi” in honor of her grandfather’s hadj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. But the holy name did not protect her from being gang-raped at the age of eight and left for dead in the desert. Bibish’s tenacity helped her survive, but in the coming years, that same tough-spiritedness caused her to be beaten, victimized, and ostracized from her family and community. Despite the seeming hopelessness of being a woman in such a cruelly patriarchal society, Bibish secretly cultivated her own dreams—of dancing, of raising a family, and of telling her story to the world.
The product of incredible resilience and spirit, The Dancer from Khiva is a harrowing, clear-eyed dispatch from a land where thousands of such stories have been silenced. It is a testament to Bibish’s fierce will and courage: the searing, fast-paced tale of a woman who risked everything.
“Will be read in a single sitting and not soon forgotten. This is a new kind of literature, one that offers the reader not the virtual fruits of an imaginative mind, but still-warm flesh pared from the author’s own bones.” —Tatiana Nabatnikova, coordinator of the National Bestseller literary prize