Ganieva's Salam, Dalgat!

Review of Salaam, Dalgat!
March 25, 2012

Alisa Ganieva’s Salam, Dalgat!, winner of the 2009 Debut Prize for long prose, is a wonderful example of fiction where form and content complement one other, creating a harmonious, readable work that has more depth than you might initially feel or see. (Regular visitors to the Bookshelf know this is my favorite kind of fiction…) Ganieva’s long story describes a day in the life of Dalgat, a young man who travels around Makhachkala, Dagestan, on a mission to find a relative, Khalilbek. 

Salam, Dalgat! opens at a market, among soaps, shampoos, henna packets, raspberries, grape bunches, pomegranates, sad-looking kittens, and sellers’ pitches… and closes hours later, after Dalgat has, among other things, experienced a minor mugging, sat for a bit in a café, and witnessed such events as a literary ceremony and a shooting at a wedding. Ganieva moves Dalgat—and the vignettes that accumulate to form a plot and collective portrait of a time and place—at a brisk but rational pace, weaving in language as varied, colorful, and juicy as the market goods on the story’s first pages. Read further