2022年3月17日 星期四

After Autocrat Falls, Kazakhs Hunger for Change 獨裁者垮台後 哈薩克民心思變

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2022/03/18 第374期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 After Autocrat Falls, Kazakhs Hunger for Change 獨裁者垮台後 哈薩克民心思變
How a Nostalgic Novel About Spain's Heartland Joined the Political Fray 懷舊小說談西班牙中部 掀起政治紛擾
After Autocrat Falls, Kazakhs Hunger for Change 獨裁者垮台後 哈薩克民心思變
文/Valerie Hopkins

獨裁者垮台後 哈薩克民心思變

For three decades, Nursultan Nazarbayev was seemingly everywhere in Kazakhstan, the country he ruled with an autocrat's clenched fist. The capital's airport was named after him, as were the city's best university, a group of elite high schools throughout the country, well-endowed foundations and wide boulevards.


Nazarbayev designed a futuristic white steel tower in the center of the city, with a gold orb on top. Inside, visitors can place their hands in a giant gold relief of Nazarbayev's own hand, his fingers pointing out the plate-glass windows to his presidential palace in the distance. He stepped down as president in 2019 after 28 years but retained power and influence as the official "Leader of the Nation." His rubber-stamp Parliament renamed the capital city in his honor.


It was an open secret that he was the one still calling the shots.


Now the man who was everywhere and who controlled everything has all but vanished after violent protests last month that spread like wildfire and marked the country's greatest political upheaval since it became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Political power now rests with Nazarbayev's hand-picked successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who stripped his longtime boss and mentor of his title and his last remaining footholds of power. Except for making a brief video statement, the former leader has receded, the speed of his fall from power almost as stunning as the length of his reign.


Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic with a population of 19 million, faces an uncertain future. Nazarbayev had maintained a fragile independence from Vladimir Putin's Russia, but Tokayev was forced to call for Russian-led military support to help quell the violence last month, raising the question of whether he is beholden to the Russian leader for helping to assure his political survival. As Putin squares off against the West in a standoff over Ukraine, the Russian president has made clear his intention to maintain influence over neighboring countries.


Regardless of who Tokayev brings into his inner circle, Nazarbayev's effective removal from control has emboldened people, said Zhanbolat Mamai, an opposition politician. He cited what he said was a crucial difference between the two men.


"For 30 years, people were afraid of Mr. Nazarbayev," Mamai said. "No one is afraid of Mr. Tokayev."


How a Nostalgic Novel About Spain's Heartland Joined the Political Fray 懷舊小說談西班牙中部 掀起政治紛擾
文/Raphael Minder

懷舊小說談西班牙中部 掀起政治紛擾

In her debut novel, "Feria," Ana Iris Simón begins with a poignant admission: "I'm jealous of the life that my parents had at my age."


"Feria" is based on her childhood in the arid heartland of Spain, with parents who were postal workers and grandparents who were farmers on one side, traveling fairground workers on the other. Little happens, but that is intentional — she wants readers to appreciate her rural upbringing in Castilla-La Mancha, the region made famous by the Miguel de Cervantes classic "Don Quixote."


Simón, 30, also means, through her portrayal of how her family lived, to express ambivalence about what her generation has gained — university educations, travel, consumer goods — as well as their feelings of anxiety, especially when it comes to jobs and the economy. Simón lost her job as a journalist working for Vice magazine as she was writing "Feria."


The book has struck a chord with readers, but it has also become a lightning rod in Spain's emotional political debate, fueled by party fragmentation and polarization. Simón said her book had been interpreted as "a questioning of the dogmas of liberalism," to an extent that she had not anticipated.


Her parents had a home and were raising a 7-year-old daughter at the age when she was still trying to become a writer, Simón writes. "We, however, have neither a house, nor children, nor a car. Our belongings are an iPhone and an Ikea bookshelf. ... But we convince ourselves that freedom

means avoiding having children, a house and a car because who knows where we will be living tomorrow."


Initially published in late 2020 by a small Spanish press, Circulo de Tiza, "Feria" has since been reprinted 13 times and sold almost 50,000 hard copies. It was getting distributed last month in Latin America by another publisher, Alfaguara, as well as translated into German.


In the book, Simón describes her grandfather, José Vicente Simón, planting an almond tree on the outskirts of town, simply to tend it and watch it grow. During a visit to the area, the tree was thriving, and José Simón and other characters from the novel were just as she portrayed them.


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