Met Author of “Two Kyrgyz Women” and Book Club Questions (Part III)

Having read “Two Kyrgyz Women” twice and then meeting the actual author was a thrill for me the other day. (please read my two prior blog entries) If you haven’t read the book yet, somehow try to get a copy.  Spoiler Alert:  the following answers to our Book Club generic questions may give away what actually happens in this gripping account.  Still, I think you should read the book because it is short and succinct.  All who read about these two Kyrgyz women’s account are made aware that slavery, whether labor exploitation or sex trafficking is alive and “well” in Kazakhstan.

Book Club Generic Questions

1)      What is the book about? (ideas, not the plot)

2)      What are the important themes?

3)      Is the book driven primarily by plot, theme or characters?

4)    Discuss the main characters:  what are their distinguishing traits and characteristics? Which are the most important relationships?

5)   Who are the most important secondary characters?

  1. What makes them memorable?
  2. Do they help move the story forward?
  3. What other reasons would the author have for introducing them?

6)      Discuss favorite or revealing scenes.

7)      What were the most significant flaws or problems with the book?

8 )      If you were the author what changes would you make?

9)      Did you enjoy the book?

10)   What do you think was the author’s reason for writing the book?

11)   Do you feel it was directed at a particular market or segment of society?

12)   Would you recommend this book to others to read?

My answers:

1)      What is the book about? (ideas, not the plot) Slavery exists today, we need to be aware of it if we care about other human beings who are trapped in poverty. These people whether from the villages of Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan are desperate for a way to make more money, even risking leaving their families behind.

2)      What are the important themes? Mothers love their children, some will leave them for a better job in a far off country so they can send back money for a better life for them.  Men also suffer but they seem to be the ones perpetuating the problem. Much was learned about the Kyrgyz culture and the rituals they have about marriages (bride kidnapping), funerals, babies, leave-taking from home.

3)      Is the book driven primarily by plot, theme or characters? The two characters had two different experiences but were similar in some ways.  They were both fooled into thinking they would have a decent paying job that would help them with their families but one was used as a common laborer in the tobacco fields in Kazakhstan, the other as a prostitute in Dubai.  Both escaped and felt it important to tell their story so others don’t fall into the same trap.

4)      Discuss the main characters: what are their distinguishing traits and characteristics? Which are the most important relationships? Ainura seemed a simple woman with a very poor past, she had an alcoholic husband and he was always a big dreamer. Her husband had sold her father’s prized horse, he was a reckless, irresponsible man. Her husband wanted to make money for his family, but he was wedded to drinking and he abused his wife Ainura.  Enough so that she went over the edge to leave her other children with the promise of a job in Kazakhstan. She took her two month old son with her. 

However, Gulmira was more educated than Ainura and had a loving father and two older brothers.  Her father died suddenly and she married someone she met at university who was an economist.  He thought like an economist and dreamed big also.  Turned out he was in the wrong political party (Akiev supporter) and was a womanizer.  He was irresponsible in that he bought a fancy sports car, was in a car accident and owed lots of money to a VIP.  It was Gulmira who was driven to the edge and trusted her brother’s wife who was in the sex trade business.  Gulmira felt she had to make money to help raise her family because her husband wasn’t capable of it.  He seemed to be a momma’s boy.

5)      Who are the most important secondary characters?

  1. What makes them memorable? The first story doesn’t really have a hero except for Ainura who made it back to Kyrgyzstan alive with her baby boy.  The second story clearly shows that the French journalist was the hero to Gulmira because he did not want to use her as a prostitute, he helped her escape.
  2. Do they help move the story forward?  Ainura might have died at the tobacco plantation had she not been sent to the old couple where she tended sheep for them.  Definitely the French journalist helped Gulmira otherwise she might have been beaten or gang raped, end of story. There might have been others who helped that are left out of the story for security reasons.
  3. What other reasons would the author have for introducing them?  As we found out from the author, it is sometimes the “clients” of prostitutes that help them to freedom.  In this case Gulmira had a man who took pity on her, her other sister-in-law helped her get connected to the Kyrgyz consulate.

6)      Discuss favorite or revealing scenes.  My most favorite part in the book was when Gulmira was smart enough to have brought along with her an English/Russian dictionary. She secretly sat in the bathroom and memorized the lines that helped save her, “I am not a prostitute, I am a mother of four children. I want to go home to Kyrgyzstan, help!”  As an English teacher, I can tell my students that knowing English can help save your life!!!

7)      What were the most significant flaws or problems with the book?  It needs a stronger editing of the spelling or grammar.  It is written very eloquently, it is a labor of love but some of the pages are missing or added on so I think a different publisher needs to be found.

8)      If you were the author what changes would you make? If there is a second edition that is published, I think the author should add what has happened to the two Kyrgyz women since their return to Kyrgyzstan.  Also a timeline charting the years where they were such as in Gulmira’s case because it is a longer time line from about 1993 up to 2007.  It would help to know what happened when.

9)      Did you enjoy the book? Absolutely!  It is very stirring to read these real life accounts but very sad to think there are thousands of others who have not been freed and have died or are trapped in this kind of slavery.

10)   What do you think was the author’s reason for writing the book? To inform the rest of the world that slavery is still going on and a few criminals are profiting in this very lucrative sex trade. This needs to change and the criminals, traffickers and clients need to be put behind bars.

11)   Do you feel it was directed at a particular market or segment of society? Yes, it was directed to the expat community who read English to be aware that they can do something about this.  Perhaps they can put a stop to these human rights violations by insisting that strict laws are enforced against the people who transport the laborers or sex trade victims.  Strict laws should be against those who are the clients, the “Johns” should be penalized.

12)   Would you recommend this book to others to read? Yes, I would want my friends who have prominent positions in the expat community to be aware of this problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: