While trying to collect interesting literature on Kyrgyzstan, it struck me how little has been written about the country, and how much of what has been written comes from the hands of Americans who stayed in the country for a while as Peace Corps Volunteers, embassy staff or expat wife.
If that’s your thing, see the Other Books section at the bottom of the page. Below I have tried to list the most interesting books by professional writers. It became a surprisingly short list.
Good travelogues and historical accounts of Central Asia that include Kyrgyzstan can be found in the Central Asia books section.
Best books on Kyrgyzstan
A political travelogue, and the best popular journalism to come out of Central Asia. Shishkin knows Central Asia and he knows how to write, and the result is one of the best books on the current state of the region, blending stories of locals with high-level political insight.
The most beautiful love story in the world, written by Kyrgyzstan’s national poet.
An American journalist teaches journalism in Kyrgyzstan for a year, and makes side trips in the region. I didn’t read this one myself, but it has been well-received. It’s written from an American perspective and it deals a lot with the American involvement in the region, so I suspect it’s Americans who will get the most out of this one.
Eye-catching, mind-captivating pictures of Kyrgyz people in traditional settings. The book focuses on the costume and dress of Kyrgyz people, led by the research of ethnographer Antipina.
Written by a former US embassy worker, this thriller set in Kyrgyzstan seems to be the best of the books written by American expats after their stint in Kyrgyzstan. I have no interest in reading this one, but found no other interesting books on Kyrgyzstan to include in this list.
Other books on Kyrgyzstan
Half travelogue, half guidebook, this book mixes practical advice with little vignettes on local life in Kyrgyzstan.
An American expat’s wife describes her life in Kyrgyzstan. Not related to Margaret Atwood, it seems, her adventures are as pedestrian as they come.
An expat wife has a baby in Bishkek. This sounds like a really crap book.
Music therapist becomes Peace Corps volunteer, spends 2 years in Kyrgyzstan teaching English, complains about it in letter form. You couldn’t pay me enough to read this.