Rating: 2 out of 3
As per Wikipedia, Absalyamov (1911-1979) was one of the most significant and famed Tatarstani writers of the 20th century. He began his career as a blue collar worker, working in various factories in Moscow, but then, in 1936, changed course, entering the Maksim Gorky Literary Institute and subsequently devoting himself to literature.
"White Flowers" is the Russian translation of the original work «Ак чәчәкләр» written by Absalyamov in Tatarstani. Its the first book I've read by a Tatarstani author and I rather enjoyed it. "White Flowers" follows a group of Tatarstani Doctors in their daily lives, both at home and in the emergency room. A central theme in the novel was a Doctor's duty to selflessly serve the people and in this, find happiness. The novel provided many examples of Doctors in the hospital who met or did not meet this criteria.
The bulk of the book's narrative was also concerned with love stories, and in particular, a love triangle consuming the novel's main characters, Doctors Gulshagida and Mansur. As we are advised very early in the novel, Doctors Gulshagida and Mansur were in love with each other from a very early age; they were more-or-less expected to marry...but then, some strange quirk in Dr. Mansur's character drew them apart. Much of the novel is dedicated to following the twists and turns of the pair's romantic lives. Into the mix comes a competitor for Dr. Gulshagida's attentions- the dashing Dr. Yanguar. So as to leave no doubt as to whose side the reader should be on, Dr. Yanguar was made out to be as evil as possible. However, he was still the most interesting and dynamic character of the novel (as villains often are, I suppose) and I spent most of the novel rooting for him to 'get the girl'.
To be quite honest, I have to add that I didn't like Dr. Mansur much at all. The narrative itself described him as flighty, weak-willed and inconsistent, although a good surgeon...
"White Flowers" is by no means a serious novel. Its a light beach novel that will literally fly by, despite being over 500 pages in length. If you're looking for a not-too-serious, somewhat inspiring book about love and Doctors in mid-20th century Tatarstan, this is the book for you.
2 out of 3