Ali K.’s “Burial Ground” Photo Series

June 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lovely photos of a very interesting place – there’s also a major Sufi shrine in the cemetery and the power station looms over it all.

the art of life in chinese central asia

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Last weekend I went to Gulsay Cemetery at the south end of Ürümchi, back behind the power plants right next to lowest foothill of the eastern section of Heavenly Mountains. Many Uyghur, Kazakh and Hui heroes are buried in this cemetery; people often just refer to it as “the Muslim cemetery.” Looking at the markings around you, it feels as though you are in a completely Muslim world. In the Uyghur section of the cemetery all of the signs are in the Arabic script of modern Uyghur. There is little sign in this community of the dead that this cemetery is in the largest Chinese city in Central Asia. But if you look a few hundred meters away you immediately recognize that the city is now even here: the last stop on 308 bus line. Giant earth moving machines prowl the nearby city landfill; sunlight reflects off of the CITIC…

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Italo Calvino’s Sixth Memo for this Millennium

June 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

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My fanciful attempt to channel the shade of Italo Calvino is in the new Dublin Review. It’s a piece that praises obscurity and the art of re-reading – and the idea for it was originally suggested by the novelist Rajorishi Chakraborti, who was my tutor on the University of Edinburgh Creative Writing course.

‘181 Terrorist groups’

June 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Anti-terror drill in Xinjiang

Anti-terror drill in Xinjiang

My latest piece on the LRB Blog about China’s dubious claims about the extent and nature of ‘terrorism’ in Xinjiang.

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