Trans Eurasia travel

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Given the close relationship between Tajik and Persian, it is perhaps unsurprising that their literatures have become entwined, with Tajiks absorbing many works from the Persian literary canon into their own. Tajiks have retained this sense of a united literary identity in spite of their community being split by the geographical borders of numerous nation states, and hence Bukhara and Samarkand (both now in Uzbekistan) are still seen as centres of Tajik literary culture.

The writer and philosopher Abu Abdullah Rudaki is considered to be the father of Tajik literature. Along with Ferdowsi (934-1020), author of the epic poem Shahnameh ('The Book of Kings'), and the scientist Hussayn ibn Abu Ali Ibn Sina (980-1037), known in the west as Avicenna, he is a pillar of classical Tajik literature, and rightly commemorated with street names and monuments across the country. The most visually appealing memorials to Rudaki are the mosaic arch and statue in Central Park, and the Writers' Union Building (both in Dushanbe), which also commemorates Tajikistan's other literary heavyweights.

Moving forward to the immediate pre-Soviet and Soviet periods, three writers dominate. Sadriddin Aini (1878-1954) was a Jadidist writer, educator and poet. He became a communist and began writing prose in the Soviet era. His works include several novels (including his most famous works Slaves and Dokhunala), and also memoirs depicting life in the Bukhoran Khanate. Several of his works have been adapted for the screen. Aini was the first president of Tajikistan's Academy of Sciences.

Abu'l-Qasem Lahuti (1887-1957) was born in Iran but was politically drawn to the Soviet Union and settled in Tajikistan in the 1920s, encouraged no doubt by the fact he had been sentenced to death by a court in Qom for his part in a failed coup against the Iranian government. He wrote both lyric poetry and socialist realist' verse, and was also the author of the official anthem of the Tajik SSR. His poetry was published in six volumes in 1960-63.

Another poet, Mirzo Tursunzoda (1911-77), collected Tajik oral literature and wrote his own poems inspired by political and social change. For more about his life and work.