That was what literary critics and his contemporaries called Dulat Issabekov, when he became a well-known writer of Kazakhstan. When he had been just over a year old, Dulat had fallen seriously ill and …died…or so they thought. The child’s body had been put out into a cold corridor prior to its burial the following day. Everything was ready for the funeral – the long shirt the child was to be buried in and the meal for the wake after the burial. Then all of a sudden the old neighbour, who had been entrusted with the task of carrying out the infant’s body and handing it to the grave-diggers, let out a frantic scream. It turned out that the child was still alive and not just alive but laughing after catching sight of the old woman. This was how Dulat had returned from the other world just an hour before his funeral was due to start. That happened in 1943, exactly a year after his father had been killed at the Battle of Stalingrad. The writer was to recall: “We were children then, but robbed of our childhood. Our fathers had been lost at the front and our childhood in villages far away from it”.
Dulat’s mother died on the very day he joined the Communist Youth League aged 14. After that his elder brothers and sisters assumed responsibility for him and he went to a boarding-school for orphans in the town of Arys. After leaving school, Dulat was apprenticed as a fitter in railway communications. In 1961 he gained a place at the Philology Faculty of the Kazakh State University, from which he graduated in 1966.
When Dulat had been a student in his final year, a collection of his stories and novellas, entitled “Beket”, was published. It was to prove a sensation at the time. The response from critics and readers was a rapturous one.
Today Dulat Issabekov has dozens of novellas to his name, around forty short stories and a novel entitled “The Revolt”. He has also written over twenty works for the stage. Isabekov’s works have been published and re-published in Moscow on several occasions. Some of his novellas and stories have been translated into German, Hungarian, Czech and Chinese.
Plays by this writer are performed in theaters throughout Kazakhstan. They have also been staged in Turkey, Saint Petersburg, Omsk, Sofia (Bulgaria), Tadzhikistan and Bashkiria. In 2012 a whole international festival was devoted exclusively to his work under the title “The World of Issabekov”. Since 2014 his play “The Transit Passenger” became known in the UK too.
Dulat Issabekov was the first writer to be awarded the State Prize of Independent Kazakhstan, the prize of Kazakhstan’s Pen Club and the Platinum Prize of the independent organization “Tarlan”. Feature films have been made of Issabekov’s works “Gaukhar Tas”, “Sagebrush”, “Far and Away” and “Lottery” and also a documentary about his life and work entitled “The World of Issabekov” (2012). In 2014 he received an International Chingiz Aitmatov Award in the House of Lords, British Parliament for his achievements in the Literature.