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The Dancer from Khiva: One Muslim Woman's Quest for Freedom

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
An unflinchingly honest memoir, The Dancer from Khiva is a true story that offers remarkable insights into Central Asian culture through the harrowing experiences of a young girl.

In a narrative that flows like a late-night confession, Bibish recounts her story. Born to an impoverished family in a deeply religious village in Uzbekistan, Bibish was named “Hadjarbibi” in hono
Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published August 5th 2005)
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Elevate Difference
Jan 11, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it really liked it
The Dancer from Khiva is an autobiographic work. Born on the thirteenth of January, many of the major events of Bibish’s life took place on a thirteenth of one month or another, yet, while seeing herself as unlucky, Bibish does not allow her fate to be predestined. When Bibish was raped, it seems almost as if it was a catharsis: by seeing herself as spoiled goods, Bibish sheds her societal restrictors and allows herself to dance.

Bibish is constantly acting; even when her hope wanes she cannot st
[Around the World challenge: Uzbekistan] 3,5/5 What fascinated me the most about this book is the fact it takes place at a crossroad between two cultures that were very separate in my mind until now: Muslim Central Asia and USSR. The most interesting part to me was the author's emigration to Russia and her struggle to adapt to her new life. It's also true the writing style is simple but keep in mind that the original version wasn't written in her first language and this is a translation. The mer ...more
Dee Rose
Dec 31, 2012 Dee Rose rated it it was ok
I understand that she wrote this book without any professional experience and it was conversation-like narration but it was random and all over the place. The actual events that took place in her life were very tragic and sad but the book follows no consistent pattern and you think certain events mentioned will have some significance later on and they don't. There is really no emphasis at all about her dancing, it's kind of misleading.
Maud (reading the world challenge)
[#63 Uzbekistan] 3,5/5 What fascinated me the most about this book is the fact it takes place at a crossroad between two cultures that were very separate in my mind until now: Muslim Central Asia and USSR. The most interesting part to me was the author's emigration to Russia and her struggle to adapt to her new life. It's also true the writing style is simple but keep in mind that the original version wasn't written in her first language and this is a translation. The mere fact that this book ex ...more
Jan 27, 2017 Muna rated it liked it
The Dancer from Khiva is a memoir of one Muslim woman that grew up in the rural area of Uzbekistan, when it was still a part of Soviet Union. The author, Bibish tells her tragic life story starting from the very childhood.

I liked this book because the Author’s story was written by heart, with Honesty and in unique style . Even though the stories in the novel were poorly organized, which made it confusing to follow author thoughts sometimes. They were still engaging and thought provoking.
Apr 19, 2010 chucklesthescot rated it did not like it
Shelves: asian, true
Really disliked this book. The writing style was poor and almost child-like, I hated the way she kept stopping to introduce her next story complete with story title like Aesop's Fables or something, and the story itself was disjointed and jumping around all over the place instead of being a cohesive memoir. She mentions thinks like her childhood rape then mostly glosses over the aftermath and the other things you want to read about, instead choosing to talk about mundane things that you don't re ...more
May 10, 2016 Sally rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography
"Khiva...with its own harsh, merciless laws and customs, its own strange and vicious ways of looking at life",, May 12, 2016

This review is from: The Dancer from Khiva: One Muslim Woman's Quest for Freedom (Paperback)
Probably around a *2.5 for this autobiographical account of an Uzbek woman and her hard life (published 2004.)
Bibish describes her early life in a village near Khiva - her successful school career and her flair for dancing, but also her poor home,widespread disapproval of her dancing
Mar 07, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in Eastern cultures
Recommended to Diane by: library book
This is a memoir of a woman who grew up in a very strict Muslim area of Uzbekistan when it was still part of Russia. The author, Bibish, wrote her story while she and her family were living in poverty conditions in Russia. It was partly as an effort to pull herself out of a depression, caused by her repeated failed attempts to escape poverty. The first part of the book describes her horrid childhood experiences, trying to live in a community that suppresses women, and her efforts to run away fro ...more
Dixie Keyes
May 25, 2014 Dixie Keyes rated it liked it
Honest and excellent choice for readers who want to be immersed fully into another culture, and even more specifically into the life of an immigrant female in Central Asia, trying to fit in and to just live.

The narrator was always an artist, a dancer at heart, but rarely was able to use or display her artistry; she seemed surrounded by a self-imposed superstitious existence (a commonality of all cultures, I think). Given the time period of the book was from the late 1980's to the
Sabrina Rutter
May 15, 2009 Sabrina Rutter rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I like that she wrote it as though she were just talking to you and telling her story face to face. I'm still not sure why it says "one muslim woman's quest for freedom" in the description though. Maybe the publisher thought it would make for a good sale?
At some points in this book I wanted to cry, and then at some points I was laughing so hard I did cry. She is a very spirited woman, but I just wish that she would stand up for herself a little more. She doesn't dwell o
Jan 31, 2009 Jan rated it liked it
Interesting story about a girl from Uzbekistan. She has an awful life, growing up poor, subjected to cruelity, unfair treatment of women, besides the fact that she would rather dance than do the dishes. She is resilient, I'll give her that. Experienceing hardship after hardship, and making really dumb mistakes, because of her unsophisticated upbringing, she somehow survives in the big city of Moscow.

This book is not well written, but it is a story of a woman from a silenced culture.
Nov 25, 2008 Elaine rated it liked it
The author wrote this story as if she was in a coverstation with the reader. It makes for a unique reading experience. I enjoyed learning about her culture and her life's experiences though much of her life was quite hard. But she is able to overcome hardship and I felt a kinship with her. We are all part of the human family regardless of our backgrounds. A hardship or joy is one and the same to us all.
Praised in Russia for its "artlessness," reading Bibish's memoir is more like reading transcripts of an ethnographer's interview than a novel.
It is undeniable that she has had a grisly life; raped several times as a young girl and slandered for it, pimped and cheated as a traditional dancer and altogether lost in a hard and heartless world that hates women, especially spunky and no-nonsense women like Bibish. An interesting look at 20th century Uzbekistan and Russia.
Jun 07, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was ok
I somehow came across a version that was an uncorrected proof, so I don't know what might have been different in the final version. I had no problem with the stories. They were very moving, emotional, frustrating. It was just the flow that I wasn't a fan of, which may or may not have been changed in the final copy. I don't want to pass too much judgement considering my odd exposure to the work.
Aug 21, 2012 Elisabeth rated it it was ok
Very simplistic read. I liked the book, for what it was. It's a relaxing read if you don't want to think too much. The author reminds me of that endearing, yet somewhat naive and annoying aunt that you have, who decided to write her own book, without having ever written before.
The story was decent, I just wish there was more at every turn.
Sep 23, 2009 Callie rated it liked it
This book is written in a very simplistic, almost childlike manner. It is the story of a woman from a rural area and the challenges she faced through her life. The descriptions of Central Asian and Russian culture rang true and were interesting to me, but I would only recommend this to people who have a specific interest in that part of the world.
Emily Fuentes
Apr 14, 2013 Emily Fuentes rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read. I loved the way she described the stories which made up her life. I think the reason that many people had a hard time reading this is because they are used to a western style of writing. She is from the East (Uzbekistan) & writes like she would talk. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will really enjoy this book.
May 08, 2009 Shirlyn rated it really liked it
After reading this book and many like it, there is a definate feeling of awe and amazement at the struggles other women in the world are dealing with still today, so different than myself. Very easy to read, very simmple to follow, but you really get to feel for this author who keeps having so many misfortunes and never giving up
Michelle Chick
Sep 03, 2015 Michelle Chick rated it it was amazing
A testament to the indomitable spirit; Bibish never stops striving to get what she wants and needs for her family, even after enduring several disasters. This is an eye-opening tale for a privileged person of a developed nation to see how others in the world still struggle. And yet, despite perhaps lagging technologically, the world seems so much simpler 'over there'.
Jul 04, 2009 m_miriam rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Badly written, needs an editor, perhaps badly translated, lacks personal insight or reflection... Publishers seem to forget that you still need a good writer to have a good memoir; a fascinating, tragic, or dramatic life, such as is the case with this author, is not enough to make a good book.
Renee Gimelli
May 05, 2015 Renee Gimelli rated it it was ok
Primitively written and translated, this story really goes nowhere. Bi is seems to be singularly unlucky, but plucky enough to survive. Is her story so different or has she just been able to voice it?
Rachael Cain
Jun 01, 2014 Rachael Cain rated it liked it
Pretty poorly written style-wise, but that is probabaly a result of the language barrier. I didn't mind because I wasn't reading this memoir because she was a great writer, I was reading it because she led an extraordinary life and the content was rich.
This is a pretty tragic story. Bibish tell the story her life in her own words. She is not a trained writer, just a woman with a lot of heart. I'm glad she told her story, it was a you-go-girl moment for me.
Jan 28, 2009 Bethany rated it liked it
Fairly intersting life events written. Do not read if you are looking for amazing writing skills or complete thoughts... But, it was pretty interesting, and a very fast read.
Nov 02, 2008 Linda rated it liked it
Interesting insight into Central Asian culture especially as it pertains to women. I found the narrative a little difficult to follow at times, but overall I liked the book
Mary Blye
Aug 04, 2015 Mary Blye rated it really liked it
A very beautiful, heartbreaking story
Mar 25, 2012 Sasha rated it it was ok
Perhaps it was the translation, however, this book was poorly written. It seemed as though a child wrote it at times.
Oct 02, 2008 Conny rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in life in the former Soviet Union and its republics
Shelves: nonfiction, 2008, memoir
Interesting story, but the language throughout the book reminded me of that of a child going to elementary school.
Kavita rated it it was amazing
Apr 07, 2014
Jiret rated it did not like it
Aug 22, 2011
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