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A Review of Singing My Life: The Story of Kongar-ool Ondar by Valentina Suzukei

Singing My Life: The Story of Kongar-ool Ondar, Legendary Throat Singer from Tuva

by Valentina Suzukei, translated by Aksai Bapa

Singing“This book is a collection of stories from Mr. Ondar’s life, compiled by his good friend Tuvan ethnomusicologist Dr. Valentina Suzukei.” (Quote from Aksai Bapa).

This book is an interesting look into life in Tuva, a small province of Russia. It is located just north of Mongolia, in central Asia. You get to follow the life of Kongar-ool from early childhood until his death at the age of 51 in 2013. You learn of the tough times he had as a youth, how he was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, and how he was elected to the Tuvan Parliament, the Great Khural. During all of these events, he was becoming a well-known throat singer (khoomei). He went on to tour worldwide and he also recorded a few albums. I was able to go on iTunes and purchase one of them, “Back Tuva Future”. I listened to it as I read this book.

Most of the book was about the life of Kongar-ool, but the author also let you know that Tuvan culture was in danger of being trampled down by the central Russian bureaucrats. You got the feeling that this book was more than just a life-story of one of the most famous throat singers, it was also trying to bring the Tuvan culture to the forefront. He doesn’t want the world to forget, to allow their folk music to be obliterated by the cultural committees in Moscow. And after listening to the music and watching the videos on YouTube, I agree. This should not be allowed to happen.

Singing My Life is a collection of stories, originally written in Russian, and then translated to English, and published this August as a Kindle e-book. There are many photographs, which really add to the completeness of the book. This will teach you about the phenomenon of throat-singing, how it is done, who does it, and why it is important that it is preserved, but unless you continue on and listen to the music and view the performances, you will be missing most of the story. Once you see Kongar-ool Ondar on stage, you will understand why this book had to be written. I think this is an important book. If you want a more complete sense of our planet, and what music can do to bring us all together, you should read this book.

I give this book 4 Stars out of 5, it has some faults, but I encourage you to read it. You need to broaden your view of the world, and I think you will like it.

Some YouTube links.
3 styles of Tuvan overtone throat singing – Kongar-ool Ondar
Back TUVA Future: Ondar in Vladivostok
Kongar ol Ondar – My Tuva – Benim Tuvam (Türk Dünyası Ezgileri)

Book Description

August 31, 2014
Valentina Süzükei takes readers on a journey through the life of legendary throat singer Kongar-ool Ondar. When he came onto the scene in 1989, Ondar was one of the pioneers of Tuvan throat singing in the West. Süzükei tells stories of his childhood, his first travels abroad, his collaborations with Frank Zappa, and his work on the Genghis Blues motion picture.

Book Details

File Size: 9295 KB
Print Length: 134 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Bapalar (August 31, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00N70ZM4E
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled

This book was given to me by the translator, Aksai Bapa, with the knowledge that I would give it an unbiased review.

The Book Description and details are from Amazon. Singing My Life: The Story of Kongar-ool Ondar, Legendary Throat Singer from Tuva

 

 

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