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    Sample from the Novel:

    The Flute Player from Urumqi

     

    By Jeffrey Carnett 鄭文祺

    Ayse Altay, a 22 year old Turkic Muslim woman struggles to find the balance of tradition and surviving in China. She is unmarried and pregnant. Her community shuns her and her lover is determined to destroy her people. The saga that unfolds changes her life and the whole Nation.

    Chapter One

     

    Chapter One

    Outside Urumqi, East Turkestan

    (Xinjiang, Western China)

    2028

    The men unsaddle the horses and stand at the doorway, nostrils flaring wide to breathe in the air our people have enjoyed for thousands of years. The women make final arrangements of putting out the plates and pouring the tea. The biggest and loudest woman of our village takes pride in her role as she calls the men, who rush to wash their hands of gunpowder stains and horse dander. They gather around the fire to exchange stories of the day’s combat and struggle. They are all my kin, so they have not forgotten about me but certainly do not think of me. I stay in a much smaller house, colorless save for a collection of worn rectangular prayer rugs that give me just enough space to sit and sleep.

    “You hungry, Ayşe?” Auntie Elif says.

    “Yes, I’m always able to eat.”

    “I’ll bring some yogurt and bread, then.” She opens the door flaps of my house. I hear her steps getting farther from my house and stomping into the kitchen shed nearby. I strain to hear the comments of the other women when she arrives. I want to know what will they say about my unborn baby and me. Actually, I have heard all their comments before.

    “Ayşe can pray all she wants but she is not married to this, this, man – the father of her child,” the oldest lady says.

    “She brings shame to our people,” another says. “Imagine a bastard child in our pious clan.”

    “You won’t accept the father, so what can I do?” But they can’t hear me. I didn’t plan to get pregnant this way. I never imagined having sex before marriage with anyone − it is against our religion and our traditions. I never imagined having a baby this way. It was love. He was a Communist but He was different. He was charming. But he was an enemy of my people. But it happened. I thought long and hard but I will keep my baby. I will reunite with the father of my child, somehow. I know we can be a family. We can be happy.

    Elif pushes aside the thick leather flap that hangs over the entrance to my house. I have laid out a large cotton sheet to cover the exposed dirt floor between the tattered prayer rugs. I hope for enough food to settle my burning stomach. She places out a covered ceramic bowl of yogurt on the floor. “I don’t know what your father will do to you when he gets back.”

    “If he gets back,” I mumble.

    Elif gives me a piercing glare. She shakes her head in disapproval then spoons the thick yogurt on the plate. I recognize my father’s stern look in her eyes.

    My father can be a distant, harsh man, but he can be kind, at times. Growing up, I loved being with Father. I miss holding his calloused hand even now, as twenty-three-year-old woman. I remember, when I was a child, he took me to the far west of our country.

    End of Excerpt

  • The Blog

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