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The White Mosque: A Silk Road Memoir [Hardback-2022]
Sofia Samatar
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Category:Biography & AutobiographyMemoirsMemoirs-Mem
Publisher: Hurst && Company | ISBN: 9781787388079 | Pages: 304

A rich history of wanderers, exiles and intruders. A haunting personal journey through Central Asia. An intimate reflection on mixed identity shaped by cultural crossings. In the late 1800s, a group of German-speaking Mennonites fled Russia for Muslim Central Asia, to await Christ’s return. Over a century later, Sofia Samatar traces their gruelling journey across desert and mountains, and its improbable fruit: a small Christian settlement inside the Khanate of Khiva. Named ‘The White Mosque’ after the Mennonites’ whitewashed church, the village?a community of peace, prophecy, music and martyrs?lasted fifty years. Within this curious tale, Sofia discovers a tapestry of characters connected by the ancient Silk Road: a fifteenth-century astronomer-king; an intrepid Swiss woman traveller; the first Uzbek photographer; a free spirit of the Harlem Renaissance. Along the way, in a voice both warm and wise, she explores her own complex upbringing as an American Mennonite of colour, the daughter of a Swiss-American Christian and a Somali Muslim. On this pilgrimage to a lost village and a near-forgotten history, Samatar traces the porous borders of identity and narrative. When you leave your tribe, what remains? How do we enter the stories of others? And how, out of life’s buried archives and startling connections, does a person construct a self?

About the Author

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories; the short story collection Tender; and Monster Portraits, a collaboration with her brother, the artist Del Samatar. Her work has received the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, a British Fantasy Award and a World Fantasy Award. She has also been a finalist for a Locus Award, a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award and the Calvino Prize. Her work has appeared in several best of the year anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Samatar holds a PhD in African languages and literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and she currently teaches African literature, Arabic literature in translation and speculative fiction at James Madison University.

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