Fāteḥ Niāzi was born into a family of white-collar workers and prepared himself for a teaching career. Apparently, from an early age he was bilingual in Tajik and Uzbek. He enrolled in the pedagogical training school in Samarqand in 1929 and eventually finished his studies with night classes at the Pedagogical Institute in Tashkent in 1950. In the meantime, beginning in the early 1930s, he was pursuing a career in journalism in Samarqand at the Uzbek newspaper Lenin yūli (Lenin’s way) and the Tajik newspaper Haqiqati Ūzbekiston (see ḤAQIQAT ). In 1934 he moved to Stalinabad (Dushanbe) and continued his work in journalism as a secretary at Baroi maorifi kommunistī, a magazine for teachers, and then as a secretary at Tojikistoni surḵ, the main newspaper of the Tajik Communist Party. He joined the Communist Party in 1941.
The most decisive event of his career was undoubtedly his participation in the Second World War. In December 1941 he entered the Soviet Army as a volunteer and was assigned as an editor to several army-propaganda newspapers at the front, Baroi vatan and (in Russian) Krasnoarmeĭskaya pravda. He took part in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. These experiences inspired most of the themes and characters of his later stories and novels. After the war he became active in the Union of Writers of Tajikistan, serving in 1952-59 as editor-in-chief of its principal literary review, Šarqi surḵ, and in 1963-68, 1970-78 as secretary of its board of directors. From 1979 on he devoted himself primarily to his literary work. He received numerous literary awards, including the Rudaki State Prize in 1977.
He had begun his literary career in the early 1930s as a writer of verse in Uzbek. His first volume, Marak, was published in 1933, followed by Bu kunning ḡazali (The song of this day; 1938) and Sevgi (Love; 1940). At the same time he was writing in prose, but in Tajik, which became his main vehicle of expression from the mid-1930s.
As a fiction writer Niāzi began with short pieces, which he published in a collection entitled Intiqomi tojik (1947), consisting of sketches he had written during the war at the front. They have as their main characters soldiers whom he had observed experiencing the horrors of war, but who were sustained by a deep sense of duty and patriotism. The stories are very short. Niāzi gives almost no biographical information about his heroes, only their most important character traits, and focuses on their reaction to incidents on the battlefield. Like other Tajik writers during the war, he limited himself to short genres; there were no novels or povests (short novels) (Šarifov, 1981, p. 45). Perhaps in his case he felt the lack of experience as a prose writer, especially in longer forms, and was, in any case, busy during the war with military duties.
A later anthology of sketches and short stories, Hissae az qissahoi jang (1962), reveals a significant evolution of his art. Almost all the pieces, though connected to the war, focus on the defenders of Stalingrad not in battle, but at pause in their bunkers or close behind the lines. Nor are these stories solely patriotic and propagandistic, like the ones written during the war. Rather, they examine war from a broad, human perspective, and some even seem opposed to war in principle, not, of course, to the Great Fatherland War. Niāzi shows a special interest in the inner thoughts of some of his heroes, as in “Kūzačai qadima” (in Asarhoi muntaḵab I, pp. 149-62), about an elderly archeologist and the collection of pottery and shards he has retrieved from battlefields and his musings about life which they arouse.
Niāzi’s reputation as a writer rests on three long novels, the writing of which spanned his entire career. All of them are concerned with the Second World War and are based upon his own experiences, careful research in the sources about the war in archives, and the oral accounts of the participants in the war and (of) their families. Abundant, often minute, detail, then, is a hallmark of his prose. His style is based on straightforward description, as he avoids experimentation with form and language. The influence of the official interpretation of the Second World War (known as the “Great Fatherland War” in the Soviet Union) is evident, as Niāzi shows it to have been a patriotic crusade uniting all the Soviet peoples, including the Tajiks, in selfless devotion to the defense of the common homeland.
His first novel, Vafo, embodies these qualities; the first volume (1949) deals primarily with the battlefront, while the second volume (1958) is more concerned with the home front. It is, first of all, an account of the brave deeds of soldiers in war, especially during the hard fighting in the Don River steppe and at Stalingrad in 1942. Niāzi is at pains to show how his heroes represent the highest qualities of the Soviet peoples—moral steadfastness, strength of will, and faith in their destiny. The personification of these virtues is the central figure—the Tajik Safar Odinaev, a brave and resourceful commander, who belonged to the first post-1917 generation and was thus an exemplary creation of the new Soviet society. Among a number of other attractive figures on the home front is the elderly kolkhoz member Yunus-bobo, who possesses all the typical, positive qualities of the ordinary working Tajik. Niāzi approaches Yunus-bobo and Odinaev and most of the other figures primarily from the outside, describing their actions and friendships and sense of duty, but rarely exploring their inner thoughts and feelings. He thus gives little attention to the evolution of character. This neglect is true also of the negative figures, who are intended, first of all, to highlight the sterling qualities of the heroes. One such individual is the opportunist Zohid Vohidov, who thinks only of honors and promotions, but he is at the same time one of the most vivid and artistically convincing characterizations in the novel. Nonetheless, it is not difficult in the novel to distinguish the “good” characters from the “bad.”
Niāzi’s two subsequent novels follow in form, theme, and character development the patterns evident in Vafo. In Har beša gumon mabar, ki ḵolist (1977), conflict is the center of attention, from the struggle against the Basmachi, that is, the anti-Communist resistance in Tajikistan in the 1930s, the war in Finland, and the partisan movement in Byelorussia during the Second World War. Niāzi again makes clear the link between the home front and the battlefront and insists that victories over the enemy were the work of collectives on both fronts—soldiers, women, the elderly, and children. He treats his main hero, Lt. Davlat Safoev, within such a context. Safoev, the ideal leader, does in fact lead, but he is also the member of a collective and, rather than placing himself above the masses, he seeks support in them. Niāzi thus emphasizes an important principle of Soviet (and Tajik) Communist Party doctrine—the unbreakable bond between the people and its leaders. His style remains factual and descriptive, and his treatment of character largely external.
It was the same in Sarbozoni besiloh (1984), where the narrative often becomes a means of conveying detailed information. But here Niāzi was something of a pioneer in the sense that he focuses on workers on the home front during the Second World War, a subject much neglected by his fellow writers (Šukurov, 1980, p. 121). He pursues the fortunes of workers from Tajikistan who were mobilized to build wartime factories in the Ural Mountains. The hero is a typical figure in much Tajik fiction, the party leader Orif Olimov, who treats his people justly and with compassion and whose bravery and steadfastness are the equal of any soldier at the front.
As a novelist Niāzi’s strength lay in his conscientious, detailed representations of the Second World War and his interpretation of it as a great patriotic cause that brought out the best in the Tajik and other Soviet peoples. He thus created some memorable figures among the Tajik working classes and striking scenes of the battlefront. He was essentially a chronicler of events and of the people caught up in them.
Foteh Niyozī, Asarhoi muntaḵab, 4 vols., Dushanbe, 1974-78.
Idem, Muntaḵabot, 2 vols., Dushanbe, 1984-85.
Ocherk istorii tadzhikskoĭ sovetskoĭ literatury, Moscow, 1961, pp. 164-71.
Zoia Osmanova, “Istoki vernosti: Voennye romany Fateḵa Niyazi v ryadu drugikh proizvedeniĭ o Velikoĭ Otechestvennoĭ Voĭne,” Pamir, no. 2, 1978, pp. 76-81.
Jalol Šarifov, In’ikosi jangi buzurgi vatanī dar nasri tojik, Dushanbe, 1981.
Idem, “Niyozī, Foteh,” Èntsiklopediyai sovetii tojik V, Dushanbe, 1984, pp. 176-77.
M. Šukurov, Nasri solhoi 1945-1974, Dushanbe, 1980, pp. 89-97, 124-26.
Idem, Obnovlenie: Tadzhikskaya proza segodnya, Moscow, 1986, pp. 117-21.
Originally Published: December 10, 2014
Last Updated: December 10, 2014Cite this entry:
Keith Hitchins, "NIĀZI, FĀTEḤ," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2014, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/niazi-fateh (accessed on 10 December 2014).