Professor James Riordan
"I first heard of Chyngyz Aitmatov on reading a remark by the French writer, Louis Aragon. He had come across a Russian version of the short story 'Jamila' in the August 1958 edition of the Russian literary magazine Novy Mir. Aragon wrote in astonishment of how, 'Somewhere in Central Asia... a young man could write a story that, I swear to you, is the most beautiful love story in the world.' That sent me searching for Chyngyz Aitmatov's stories. Who was this man who wrote with heart as well as mind? Who wrote in his native tongue of Kirgiz, then translated into Russian? I was eager to add English to translations so that all English-speaking people could appreciate both the beauty and the emotion of Chyngyz Aitmatov's writing.
I started with 'Mother Earth' (Материнское Поле) and found myself laughing and crying in turn as I wrote my translation. God, it tugged at my heart strings. I followed this up with 'Jamila', 'The First Teacher', 'Camel Eye' and 'Spotted Dog Running Along the Seashore' and discovered that Chyngyz Aitmatov transcends the relatively parochial confines of Kirgiz and Russian by creating works of universal artistic merit and relevance.
Later I had the privilege of meeting Chyngyz Torekulovich on his visit to London. He came home with me to meet my Bashkir wife and her Tatar mother. In no time at all they were talking fluently in Tatar - it turned out that Chyngyz's mother, Nagima, was Tatar. We met again at his dacha outside Moscow and formed a firm friendship that lasted until his untimely death in 2010.
Chyngyz Aitmatov shows in his stories that only people who have faith in something, who truly love someone or something, who can see beyond themselves, are capable of distinguishing real from false values, good from evil. Thus, Duishen in 'The First Teacher' and Tanabai in 'Farewell, Gulsary', give their whole lives selflessly for the sake of building a new life; they practise what they preach. Jamila and Daniyar's' love overcomes strong social prejudice. Tolgonai in 'Mother Earth' believes in their unity and harmony with nature. Their faith shines through and is truly inspiring. The 'Earth'. Like all of Chyngyz Aitmatov's literature, is, as he has written, 'there to unite people, to develop in them humanity, toleration and respect for one another.' A noble task."
Professor James Riordan
German translator Fridrich Hitzer
In 2006 he won the Pushkin's medal for his translation from the Russian language in Munich, Germany.
In 2011 he was prized by International Chyngyz Aitmatov Award in London.
Dr. Rahima Abduvalieva
"I will remember Chyngyz Aitmatov forever as a handsome and gentle Person, and a wise Guide to me as well!
This picture we used to promote his last novel with the German title "Schneeleopard". It was our last collaboration: Chyngyz Aitmatov, Fridrich Hitzer and me. Fridrich Hitzer and me - we finished the translation in December 2006. I was responsible for the translation of Kyrgyz words and idioms into German.
Chyngyz Aitmatov was that time in Moscow to present his Russian Edition of the novel with a title "Когда падают горы (Вечная невеста)". The Presentation of the novel in Moscow hosted Mikhail Gorbachev's Foundation. The German Presentation hosted by his Swiss Publisher in Munich in March 2007.
As a Lecturer at the University of Frankfurt on Main that time I had in the programme Chyngyz Aitmatov's short stories – my favorites "Атадан калган туяк" and "Ботогөз"! We read his short stories with German students in the Kyrgyz language!
Chyngyz Aitmatov works are very popular in Germany. You can get updated information about Chyngyz Aitmatov and his works only in German on the website of his Publisher - Unionsverlag. But the most beautiful, poetic, metaphoric and meaningful titles of Chyngyz Aitmatov exist only in Kyrgyz language, most of them are impossible to translate into other languages. As a bilingual writer Chyngyz Aitmatov has chosen his Russian titles himself and from Russian they have been translated into 150 languages worldwide. The last two novels 'Kassandramal' and 'Schneeleopard' I advised read better in German than in Russian, because of the brilliant interpretation from Fridrich Hitzer! His memories 'Kindheit in Kirgisien' and tales are available only in German!
Chyngyz Aitmatov support me to promote Kyrgyzstan in Germany as Ambassador of our country. We promoted the Heroic Epos 'Manas' in Kassel! Kyrgyzstan celebrated the 1000th Anniversary of Epos 'Manas' in July 1995! This event I remember till this day – it was so memorable and shameful for me, because I could not provide enough places for all Germans, who wanted to met the writer in person... I booked a hall for 250 people, but I got at the day of the event twice as many people as I expected! Most of guests sat on the floor or on the stairs! After 2 hours talk to audience he was very tired and hungry, but people did not want to let him go... German Media entitled him 'The Great Kyrgyz'. That summer I brought a group of my German friends to Bishkek to celebrate the 1000th Anniversary of Epos 'Manas'. We met him at the Government House in Bishkek again and discussed about the celebration!
I met Chyngyz Aitmatov first time in 1976! I am very grateful to my dad, who introduced me to the already famous writer that time! As a special present I got a volume of his short stories and novels with his blessing! After 20 years he has been a guest in my house and was very surprised to see this book again and signed it for me once more!
The fax which I got from Chyngyz Aitmatov in January 1996! I wanted to live up to his expectations all my life! 10 years later 2006 I rung Chyngyz Aitmatov to tell him about my course at the Frankfurt University. It was a very joyful moment for both of us! He was so happy!"
Dr. Rahima Abduvalieva