Gaia, Queen of Ants
by Hamid Ismailov
From Uzbek author-in-exile Hamid Ismailov comes a dark new parable of power, corruption, fraud, and deception. Ismailov narrates an intimate clash of civilizations as he follows the lives of three expatriates living in England. Domrul is a young Turk with vague and painful memories of ethnic strife in the Uzbekistan of his childhood. His Irish girlfriend Emer struggles with her own adolescent trauma from growing up in war-torn Bosnia. Domrul is the caretaker for Gaia, the eighty-year-old, powerful wife of a Soviet party boss with a mysterious past. One of Ismailov’s few novels written in Uzbek, Gaia, Queen of Ants offers a rare portrait of a complex and little-known part of the world. A plot centered on political corruption and ethnic conflict is punctuated with Sufi philosophy and religious gullibility. As Ismailov’s characters grapple with questions of faith, power, sex, and family, Gaia, Queen of Ants presents a moving tale of universal themes set against a Central Asian backdrop in the twenty-first century.