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A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

by Suzanne Joinson

Touching and evocative, this meditation on the theme of belonging links two women's stories. An opportunist chooses missionary work in twenties Kashgar to satisfy her craving for travel. A modern researcher finds a Yemeni immigrant on her doorstep. Both end up questioning their cultural inheritance and their place in a shrinking world.

Extract

I see things. I see rooms of girls asleep at their sewing machines and a filthy hovel they call the hospital, with two metal-framed beds and dirty sheets. Streets far removed from the Chinese style, streets full of Allah and donkey carts, mutton and bread echoing the steppes, a whole universe away from Peking. I see traders, bazaar men and I hear many languages: Altaic, Uzbek, Qazakh, Kyrgyz, Turki, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. I have learned that the script is a modified form of Arabic, that the religion is Islam inside a mystical Sufi, and, well, it seems to me that the mysticism overrides the Islamic ...
The wind begins as if it were a signal and the heat is about to strangle everyone and everything, but as I float and fly I can almost trick it. The middle of the morning is the beginning of the terrible part of the day.

Parallels

The Silk Road by Colin Thubron and Carlos Navajas
 

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