What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

Updated 04 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

  • Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991

Author: Richard Pomfret

The 9/11 attacks, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the oil boom of recent years have greatly increased the strategic importance of resource-rich Central Asia, making an understanding of its economic — and therefore political — prospects more important than ever. 

In The Central Asian Economies Since Independence, Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book assesses the economic prospects of each country, and the likelihood that economic conditions will spur major political changes. With independent chapters on each country, and chapters analyzing their comparative economic performance, the book highlights similarities and differences as well as  divergent paths in the transition from Soviet central planning to more market-based economies.

The book ends in 2005 with the bloodless Kyrgyz revolution and the violence in Uzbekistan, which signaled the end of the region’s political continuity. Throughout the book, Pomfret emphasizes the economic forces that foster political instability — from Kazakhstan’s resource boom and Turkmenistan’s lack of reform to Tajikistan’s abject poverty.


What We Are Reading Today: The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

Updated 24 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan’s memoir The Body Papers bravely explores her experiences with sexual abuse, depression, cancer, and life as a Filipino immigrant, supplemented with government documents, medical records, and family photos.

“Much of Talusan’s memoir will be familiar to any reader of immigrant narratives. But what renders the book memorable — perhaps what earned it the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing — is the author’s unstinting self-portrait,” said Luis H. Francia in a review published in The New York Times.

“We see Talusan clearly in the present, warts and all, precisely through the stark, lucid representations of herself in the past. Having moved with her family from the Philippines to suburban America when she was two years old, Talusan recalls complex feelings of loss, displacement and adjustment,” the critic added.

A review published in goodreads.com said: “The generosity of spirit and literary acuity of this debut memoir are a testament to her determination and resilience. In excavating and documenting such abuse and trauma, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.”