Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Railway” as Want to Read:
The Railway
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Railway

by
3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Set mainly in Uzbekistan between 1900 and 1980, this compelling novel introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas on the ancient Silk Route. Among those whose stories we hear are Mefody-Jurisprudence, the town's alcoholic intellectual; Father Ioann, a Russian priest; Kara-Musayev the Younger, the chief of police; and Umarali-Moneybags, the old moneylender. ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 28th 2008 by Random House UK (first published March 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Railway, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Railway

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Harry Rutherford
Having set myself the modest enough goal for 2010 of reading a few more books for the Read The World challenge than I did in 2009… I’m already behind schedule. We’re into March and I’ve only just finished my first. Ho-hum.

The Railway (translated by Robert Chandler) is my book from Uzbekistan. I was slightly peeved when I received the book to read in the author bio that Hamid Ismailov was actually born in Kirghizstan, but his Uzbek credentials appear to be otherwise impeccable. His parents were j
...more
Zoe Brooks
Jul 12, 2015 Zoe Brooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magic-realism
This review first appeared on the Magic Realism Books blog - http://magic-realism-books.blogspot.com

Have I told you that I have developed a liking for Russian magic realism? Yes, I think I have. And now I can add that I also enjoy magic realism from Uzbekistan, the now independent state which was part of the former Soviet Union. Hamid Ismailov is clearly in the tradition of Russian satirical magic realism that I admire so much in Bulgakov and Gogol, but this is combined with the traditions of Mu
...more
Val
May 22, 2012 Val rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-tour
"The Railway" is both a confusing and a delightful book. There are a lot of characters from a lot of different ethnic groups; it spans several years in a non-chronological way; it has the odd history lesson or maybe just a legend thrown in from time to time; it has mystical meditations on the meaning of life and God (Allah) and man, which are very seriously meant, and some communist tenets which are probably not; it has a few trains. The various characters may leave and then may or may not come ...more
Carol
Feb 05, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok
Some aspects of this book I liked, but it was very scattered, jumping around in time and from character to character, which made it extremely difficult to follow. It doesn't really have a plot. Since I knew nothing about Central Asia I did learn a lot from it. I was surprised at the wild mix of cultures and languages, the huge migrations due to exile, war, political upheavals. The book is funny in a farsical, satirical way. The crazy changes that the Russians imposed are so sad they are funny. L ...more
Karen
2.5 stars really. I really wanted to love this book, but there were so many things about it that I didn't like. I will give the pros and cons.

The Railway is a story set in Uzbekistan town of Gilas between 1900 and 1980, and the Rail Road and the station are central to the story.

Pros: The Railway is a tragic comedy. Indeed there are some very funny scenes. Ismailov is able to incorporate a lot of Uzbek history in this rather concise novel.
Robert Chandler, the translator put in lots of footnote
...more
Arjen
Mar 09, 2015 Arjen rated it liked it
The Railway is a confusing blend of mystic Islam, an extensive cast of characters that reminds of Russian novels, magic realism, communist sloganism, and lots of dirt and poverty. The novel is set in Gilas, Uzbekistan, a railroad town in the steppe. It tells the story of its inhabitants, its legends and the remarkable ethnic mix of this land owing to the many mass movements instigated by Stalin. Only a few characters really come to live, amongst which are the priest and Obik-lovely. The book is ...more
Mitchell
Aug 19, 2013 Mitchell rated it liked it
People who have spent time in the Central Asia region and are familiar with its history would find this a worthwhile read, but others may find it a little baffling. Ismailov's series of stories is largely about a lost world of a multi-pot society struggling to make sense of the Soviet way. He does bring a lot of forgotten history his tales, especially armed resistance to the Soviet takeover of the region. The number of characters is huge and difficult to remember. There is a list of the end that ...more
CarolineFromConcord
Mar 02, 2009 CarolineFromConcord rated it liked it
Magical realism in Uzbekistan. Very strange novel. I didn't understand half of it, but I decided that as long as I understood some of it, I was ahead of where I had been before. The footnotes helped. I learned a few interesting things about Central Asia, which is a hodgepodge of nationalities. Just for example, when Koreans migrated into the Soviet Union during the famine of the 1920s, Stalin rounded them up and sent them to Central Asia. He was afraid they would be too friendly with the Japanes ...more
Baklavahalva
Apr 23, 2010 Baklavahalva rated it really liked it
Yes, it's extremely postcolonial magical-realist, which means you can expect tears to destroy cinema carpets, people to be able to remove shadows, enormous penises to bring down a fence, and similar things, while the characters invoke Communist leaders and Allah. Everyone's fighting for their own personal interest, absolutely willing to have their adversaries, whether politicians, musicians, or bazaar sellers, sent to Gulag. Almost everybody at some point in this book gets sent to a labor camp. ...more
Anurag
Oct 25, 2015 Anurag rated it really liked it
The book is a delight to read. It may appear confusing (and it is at certain parts) but a decent knowledge of the world and especially Central Asia in the 20th century should keep you quite steady on the timelines.
I found it to be more a collection of short stories than a novel, except for the part of the boy. Reading it in the form of short stories doesn't clutter the mind as one continuous reading will surely do.
A reader accustomed to the English or American world (in books) might find it st
...more
Alice
Mar 22, 2015 Alice rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, asia
Page 97, and I'm giving up. I really shouldn't have read beyond the description of this books as "A poet's novel." I really don't like poetry, and poetic novels. Plus, this one is really more like a collection of short stories (which I also don't like).
Steve
Aug 26, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
A bit scattered but worth persisting with - I had to read it twice to really follow it properly but it was worth persisting with
Stephen Hinkle
Stephen Hinkle rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2015
Loli
Loli rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2016
Kyle Yarbrough
Kyle Yarbrough rated it it was amazing
Apr 22, 2015
Gina Ochsner
Gina Ochsner rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2009
Andrew
Andrew rated it liked it
Mar 08, 2014
HomeInMyShoes
HomeInMyShoes rated it it was ok
Oct 16, 2013
Jayan Parameswaran
Jayan Parameswaran rated it it was amazing
Sep 27, 2008
Bill
Bill rated it it was ok
May 15, 2009
Restless Books
Restless Books rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2014
Paul
Paul rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2017
Lydia
Lydia rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2014
Lubica
Lubica rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2015
Njamieson
Njamieson rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2014
Jackson Saul
Jackson Saul rated it it was amazing
Jun 26, 2014
Lorraine
Lorraine rated it it was ok
Dec 26, 2009
Nabeel Hamid
Nabeel Hamid rated it really liked it
May 30, 2011
Ruth
Ruth rated it really liked it
Apr 26, 2015
Khanam
Khanam rated it it was ok
May 04, 2009
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Middle East/North...: Uzbekistan: The Railway 4 13 Nov 14, 2015 01:32PM  
The Armchair Trav...: * The Railway * Discussion 8 7 May 19, 2015 09:57PM  
  • The Blue Sky
  • The Circle of Karma
  • The Last Will & Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo
  • A Land without Jasmine
  • Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia
  • Children of the New World
  • Buonanotte, signor Lenin
  • Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia
  • The Lovers of Algeria
  • Paradise
  • Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror
  • Katerina
  • Patchwork
  • The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years
  • Tanamera
  • كان صرحا من خيال
  • Little Boys Come from the Stars
  • The Zone: A Prison Camp Guard's Story

Share This Book



No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »