Ak Welsapar was born on 19th September 1956 in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. He received his Masters degree in Journalism from the Moscow State University of M.Lomonosov in 1979 and his Masters in Literary theory from the Moscow Literature Institute of M.Gorkiy in 1989. Ak writes in Russian, Turkmen and in Swedish.
Ak became a member of the Soviet Writers’ Association in 1987. However, on 25th of August 1993 Ak was excluded from the Writers’ Association after publishing investigative articles about major ecological problems in Turkmenistan. Ak wrote many critical articles about the enormous ecological problems that he had exposed in Central Asia – the shockingly high rates of infant and maternal death and the reason behind these awful statistics – overuse of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture. The overuse was caused by the monoculture of cotton – which required enormous amounts of chemical fertilizers, defoliant butifos (a substance similar to Agent Orange) and pesticides. Cotton monoculture in Central Asia, which was ordered by the Soviet regime to cover the cotton needs of all Soviet Union, led to deep-seated ecological problems in the whole region, problems that rapidly turned into global ecological disasters, the most noticeable of which is the subsequent drying-out of the Aral Sea.
The above mentioned interviews and Ak’s own articles were published in such journals and newspapers as Literaturnaja Gazeta, Druzhba Narodov, Soviet Culture, Moskovskie Novosti, The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Independent, Asahi, Dagens Nyheter, Moscow News, Hürriyet, and also in newspapers and periodicals in Greece, Denmark, Germany, France, Canada, and many other countries.
The regime in Turkmenistan declared Ak “Public Enemy Number One” and the persecution was intensified. He was interrogated several times and placed under house-arrest for long periods of time. His work became forbidden to publish and his published books were seized from stores and libraries and burnt in a bonfire. His family was also increasingly affected. Ak’s wife was fired from her position as a teacher in an elementary school, and their ten-year old son was not allowed to continue the elementary school.
This persecution was the reason why Ak and his family finally left their home country in 1993. They have now been residents of Sweden since 1994. Ak Welsapar has been a member of the Swedish Writers’ Association since 1996. He has also been an honorary member of the International PEN-Club since 1993.
WORKS BY AK WELSAPAR
Ak Welsapar is to date the author to more than 20 books. He made his debut as an author with a book for children “Which of us will dive deepest?”, Poetry, (1982). “The first drop”, Poetry, (1983). “The Melon Head”, Novel, (1984), was awarded a prize in a Turkmen national literature-competition. ”A Long Journey to Nearby”, Novel, (1988). “This Darkness Is Brighter”, Novel, (1989), banned in Turkmenistan. “The Bent Sword Hanging on the Old Carpet”, Novel, (1990). The legend of Aypi, Short novel, (1990). ”Mulli Tahir”, Novel, (1992), banned by the Turkmen censor. “The Revenge of the Foxes”, Novel, (1993). The white dragon’s path, a publicistic book about environmental degradation in Central Asia, (1994). “The Round House”, Poetry, (1996). “The salty twilight”, Short stories, (2000). “The Cobra”, Novel, (2003), in Turkmen. “Longing for Another Sky”, Poetry, (2005). “If I Only Were a White Bird!”, a book for children, (2006). ”The ones vanishing in the daylight”, literature essay, (2009). Book of fairy tales “Pitcher of treasure”, (2010). “The Cobra”, Novel in Swedish, (2011), “The Pain of Eternal Uncertainties”, Poetry book in Russian, was awarded a prize from Moscow Organisation of the Russian Righter Union “Golden Autumn” by the name Sergey Yesenin (2012).
Ak Welsapar is the author of “The Cobra” (2003), this novel has gained recognition in countries such as Russia and the USA. The novel has also received superb reviews in the prominent literary periodical “World Literature”, published quarterly in the US, in the SEPTEMBER–DECEMBER 2004 edition. In this review Joseph P. Mozur from the University of South Alabama wrote these lines among others: ”Cobra is a must for all specialists of Central Asia and a great read for anyone interested in the psychology of despots.”
Ak Welsapar is still a proscribed writer in Turkmenistan and his name has topped the list of black-listed writers since 1993.