Chingiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
Chingiz Aitmatov was a Russian-Kyrgyz writer and statesman known for such films as Первый учитель (1965), Красная косынка (1977) and Джамиля (1994).
He was born Chingiz Torekulovich Aitmatov on December 12, 1928, in Kirgizia, Soviet Union. His family was bilingual, Russian-Kyrgyz. His father, Torekul Aitmatov, was one of the first Kyrgyz communists and a regional party secretary. In 1937, while attending the Institute for Red Professorship in Moscow, Torekul was arrested and executed on charges of anti-Soviet bourgeois nationalism. Young Aitmatov was brought up by a single mother. He attended the Russian school, then Kyrgyz Agricultural Institute in Frunze, but changed from the study of livestock to the study of literature at the Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow.
He made his literary debut in Russia, in 1952, with publication of his stories in Russian. From 1958 to 1966 he was roving correspondent for the leading Soviet Newspaper Pravda. In 1967 he became a member of the Executive Board of the Soviet Writers Union, and in 1968 he won the Soviet State Prize for literature for his novel Farewell, Gulsary!, a tale of an old man reminiscing about the parallel lives of himself and his old horse, which is dying. Aitmatov won two more State Prizes in 1977 and 1983, and was named a Hero of Socialist Labor in 1978.
From 1964 to 1985 he was Chairman of the Cinema Union of Kyrgyzian SSR, and in 1985 he was named Chairman of the Kyrgyz Writers Union. In 1990-1991 he served as an advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and in 1990 was appointed Soviet Ambassabor to Luxemburg. He served as the Soviet and then Russian ambassador to Belgium from 1990 to 1993. In 1995, he became Kyrgyzstan’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and also represented his home country in the European Union, NATO and UNESCO. During the 1990s, Chingiz Aitmatov was member of the Kyrgyzstan’s parliament.
His representative works : ‘Jamila’ (1958), ‘The First Teacher’ (1967), ‘Farewell, Gyulsary!’ (1967), ‘The White Ship’ (1972), and ‘The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years’ (1988) were translated in more than 20 languages across the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Aitmatov’s novels found a new audience in the West and gained popularity in Germany. He died of pneumonia and kidney failure on June 10, 2008, in Nuremberg, Germany, and was laid to rest in Kyrgyzstan.