Zahid Khalil (Azerbaijan)

Zahid Khalil (Azerbaijan)

Khalilov Zahid Abdulla oglu was born in 1942. Doctor of  sciences on philology, professor.  He is the chief of the department of children‘s literature at ASPU. Zahid Khalil started his literary activity as a poet in 1963 and gained popularity. His works were published in large numbers in Russian language. The book “Virastut podsolnijki”  (“Sunflowers will grow”) was published in Moscow in 2 million copies, other books in 150-500 thousand copies. His works were translated into languages of post-Soviet republics and other world nations.

Zahid Khalil’s works were atop the best children’s book competition on Azerbaijan in 1986. He was awarded by “Gizil gelem” (“Gold pen”) prize.

In 1987 the book “Hello, Jirtdan” was published in Moscow and became the winner of the year in the best children book competition in the USSR. The book was demonstrated in Moscow International book fair.

Zahid Khalil started to write prose since 1979. Though his little parables and large-scale fairy narrative tales attracted attention of the readers by their innovative style and extra-ordinary stories, the older generation did not discommend them initially. “The man who wanted to shout”, “The eye-glasses worn at the Geography lesson”, “People of the Triangular country and other stories”   did not attract attention at first, but the writer did not lose courage.

In 1981 his book “Ballija” (“Honeyed”) was published in 40 thousand copies. All  copies  of the book  were sold in few days. It was a real sensation in the world of children’s literature.  Ph.D. on  pedagogics  Bilal Muradov wrote in the newspaper “Edebiyyat ve injesenet”  (”Literature and art”) on September 3, 1982:

“The stories in “Ballija” are multi-layered. The upper layer is perceived very easily. This layer is simple, funny, sometimes humoristic, full of sincere feelings. The second layer is not perceived easily, its content is difficult and serious”.

Well- known expert in literature,  Ph.D.   on philology Fizuli Askerli correctly studied Z.Khalil’s  fifty-year creativity  and published large-scale monographs “Life’s word, word’s life”, “Master’s childish world”, “Zahid Khalil’s creative world” . Salatin Ahmadova tried to reveal   the secrets of Zahid Khalil’s  creativity in her monograph “Zahid Khalil’s word and mark”. In the preface to Z.Khalil’s “Selected works” in six volumes, F.Askerli   based on Bakir Nabiyev’s thought that Z.Khalil is one of the masters of word who should be compared with world   coryphaeus of children’s literature.

After translation of  Zahid Khalil’s works into Russian the post-Soviet scientists expressed interesting thoughts about his works. Russian critics Igor Motyashov, Marina Yanpolskaya, Marina Vlasova, Natalya Filonova and others started to analyse  characteristic features of his creative activity. In the article “You live while  you create” dedicated to Z.Khalil’s creative activity which was published in the 9-th number of the magazine “Detskaya literatura” (“Children literature”) in 1987, well-known Russian critic Igor Motyashov noted that Zahid Khalil is not only literary worker and critic, but first of all he is talented children’s writer.

Z.Khalil’s works have been translated into many languages of the world as Russian, Lithuanian,   Latvian, Estonian, Moldavian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Uzbek, Kazakh, Turkmen, simultaneously Germany, Finnish, Dutch and Hindi. Thereafter Z.Khalil became more famous. His stories for children were published not only in Russian children’s media (“Murzilka”, “Vesyoliye kartinki”, “Pioner”, “Kolobok”), but at the same time in such  magazines and newspapers for adults as “Nedelya”, “Literaturnaya Rossiya”, “Rabotnitsa”.

One of the main and serious Russian and world newspapers “Literaturnaya gazeta” published some stories by Zahid Khalil (“Shadows”, “Don’t drink lemonade”, “Fire engine”). These stories were considered as the best humoristic ones in the USSR and the author was awarded by the prize “Zolotoy telyonok” (“Golden calf”).

Z.Khalil gives attention to scientific knowledge reflecting animals’ actions and features. The writer gives great value to Canadian writer E.S.Thomson and Azerbaijani writer H.Zardabi’s creativity and constructively makes use of them in his works (“Goycha”, “Orkhan and his friends”).

The huge literary monuments of the East “Kalila and Dimna”, “Gabusname” and “The thousand and one nights” are the best sources which give a strong creative impulse for Zahid Khalil’s fantasy.

Side by side with protection of the best traditions of Azerbaijani children literature Z.Khalil enriches national prose with western literary traditions and as a result he creates original examples of literary art.  It is interesting that his works differ from each other with the manner of writing as if the author chooses new style for creating plot and composition, reflecting life and creating images. In 1982 year the writer himself noted in his interview to the IV number of   Moscow magazine “Detskaya literatura”   that in every my story I somehow encounter with Andersen, Rodari, Kipling and contend with them …In fact, when the writer says “contest” he  means his choice of  the literary device of these authors of fairy tales as literary style. If in his short stories the writer is faithful to Gianni Rodari, then in stories of large-scale he encounters with genius of Andersen.  High laconism of his stories brought him closer together with R .Kipling.

“Orkhan and his friends” is the biggest work of the writer. Actually this work consists of three independent narratives. In the first narrative the author speaks about Orkhan’s life in the kindergarten, his activity in the first form, adventures in the bicycle competition and summer vacations. Every narration has its own independent plot.  “Orkhan and his friends” should be estimated as the first childrens’ novel in Azerbaijani literature.

The writer uses interesting episodes for revealing beauty of Orkhan’s   inner world who seemed to be very naughty boy at first sight. The writer benefits all opportunities for creating the boy’s image. Orkhan hides his teacher’s letter from everybody. This is a bad action. But the same letter is mentioned several times in the novel accidentally and this reveals Orkhan’s inner anxiety. Actually if the teacher’s letter reached its address in time, it should not have so much importance. In order to show Orkhan’s inner anxiety and feelings the author sometimes mentions about this letter written with red pen in the novel specially. He wants to foster in his little hero and to explain his aim to little readers. The story has an educative character as if the author wants to teach manners little readers to be truthful, to discharge their duties and to obey their parents.

Zahid Khalil’s prose is a new stage in Azerbaijani children’s literature. Though the roots of this prose go to western sources but their content is full of national ideas. The main characteristic feature of these stories is in their laconism. Most of these stories consist of two or three pages. And even these laconic stories are divided into two parts. If some of them are characterized by laconism of  plot and incidents (“The girl created of pastry”,” Kid”, “Cap”, “Mirror’, “Tural the swimmer”, “A football-player” ), the others are created by squeezing under high pressure of incidents (“The tale”, “Gulam’s strange stomach”, “Shadows”, “The man who wanted to shout”).

As the works of the first group are intended to the wide auditorium of readership they are focused   on a concrete goal by means of simple stories. The idea that they suggested to the reader are usually clear. Children read these stories with great pleasure.

The works of the second group serve the purpose of laconism of the idea, make fun of important lifelike events by means of delicate humor. Laconism of stories for children reaches its peak so masterly that they could be considered as a philosophic essay for adults.

Today Zahid Khalil is tirelessly busy on creating wonderful examples of national literature.


Children go to school
The doors of the school
Were opened as a book.
Children like pearls
are on school way,look!
Children’s ballyhoo
Like warble of school.
Here the best song belongs
To the teacher, as a rule.
This voice mounts us
on Koroglu’s horse.
This voice lifts us
up to the heavens.
This voice is lullaby,
This voice is battle roar.
In the harmony of it
school bell rings and grow.
In children’s hearts
this voice is wizardry.
Children go to school
under its harmony.
Children go to school
with pure heart in breast.
Every heart has a big
bunch of flowers on chest.
The painter was plunged in thought
He was looking at the brush.
How can he draw white color
On white paper in a rush?
How can he draw the picture
Of white egg and cream,
White lime and a chalk,
yogurt and beestings of cow?
He looked out of the window
It was snowing in the yard.
He said :-now polar bears
In Siberia are glad.
Now ducks and sea-gulls are happy
in the blue Caspian sea.
Mountains had been waiting
for snowing lightly.
White horses, white sheep,
All whites are happy nowadays.
Trees wore their white suits,
But wolves are upset -it snows:
-How can we catch a rabbit?
Everywhere it is white!
It seems that foxes’tales
Look like the frozen sticks.
There is neither prey nor hunt,
I was howling all the night,
My bright eyes turned white .
Fields and roads are snow-white.
That is the giddy limits,
This winter exceeded it.
In order not to get wet
The hens ran away to coops.
The hole of a big tree
Had hidden eggs of sparrows
If the eggs fell on the snow
They would lost from view.
That will be the end of them,
Nestlings will frozen then.
The painter was plunged in thought:
Nature is generous to a fault.
To draw polar bear is my ought
In white fur coat and white cap,
The rabbits will have a spree
In white marble room, jump and clap.
The trees were dancing to the sound
of white snow in the winter,
They beared white blossoms
By hands of magic tinter.
But little painter’s trouble
was in vain certainly
As the picture of winter
Was drawn by the nature.
Do you know what is chorus?
The unity of people!
The unity of the seas,
The unity of oceans.
If you join to choir,
It means you hold the same view.
It means that you always give
Everybody their due .
The song’s color is white-
As well as the Sun’s color.
May our voice rise high
As firework to the sky.
Forests sing all together,
Seas sing all together.
Just one song can clean dirt
Of million sorrows of the heart.
May cannons not shake down
forests, slopes, seas, mountains.
Let our voice in choir whirle,
Let our songs shake the world.
Who says it isn’t choir
The flock of nice butterflies?
Thousands bunches of daffodils,
“White gold” –the cotton fields?
If your friend is singing song
join him, sing in chorus.
Let resound our song
Breath life into his voice.
Do you know what is chorus?
The unity of people,
The unity of the seas,
The unity of oceans!
Translated by Tomiris Babanli

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