Alexei Gatapov was born in 1965 in Buryatia. He spent his childhood in the Buryat countryside being involved in agricultural labor – he looked after the cattle, hunted and fished, sheared sheep, mowed hay, moved haycocks on bull-driven carts, raked hay on horse-driven rakes, and much else. After school he enrolled in the History Department of the Buryat Teacher-training Institute, but was later drafted into the army where he was trained as a sapper serving in Mongolia, in the Gobi Desert. After his national service he completed his higher education and upon graduation he worked as a history teacher and later lectured at his alma mater.
His first publications: short and long stories about medieval Mongols, appeared in 1995 in the literary magazine Baikal. The life of Mongolian nomadic cattle-breeders has been the main theme of his work ever since. His books include Birth of a Leader (about Genghis khan); The First Nuker of Genghis khan which was later screened as a like-named feature film; Mongolian Historical Encyclopedia embracing events and facts related to Central Asia from ancient times through the 20th century; translation into Russian of the Mongolian epic Shono Bator; the novel Temujin in three books on which Gatapov was working for almost ten years. All of his books won Gatapov some local and national prizes.
Gatapov lives in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia.
Temudzhin, a historical novel.
AST, 2017. 400 pp.
The novel is devoted to the formative years of Genghis-khan when he was still called Temujhin and lived far away from any centers of medieval civilization. Gatapov, a specialist on ancient Mongolian culture, traces his path to world leadership from an uneducated youngster with outstanding physical and intellectual qualities. After his father’s death, the young Temujhin becomes the leader of his clan and experiences all the hardships of nomadic life, the raids of the neighboring clans, betrayal, captivity, cruelty, and much else. These ordeals tempered his body and spirit which enabled him to become the Great Khan at the age of 14.
The book contains a wealth of ethnographic and historical materials immersing the reader into the everyday life of ancient Mongols. Apart from numerous battle scenes, religious ritual, and inter-clan intrigues the theme of love is also presented in all its aspects: love for your child, your parents, a woman, a friend, etc, and each time it is different, deep, and unsentimental as befits a great warrior. As Sholokhov immortalized the Cossacks in his works, Gatapov did the same for medieval Mongols.
Gatapov continues to work on the theme of medieval Mongols under Genghis Khan: he is currently writing a sequel to his epic.
Says the author: It was precisely the early years of his life that tempered Temujin’s character and determined his future life and thus the subsequent history of the world. He was orphaned at the age of nine and abandoned by his relatives. He had to survive on his own amidst deadly dangers, he could have perished any day - his fate was hanging in the balance. It was interesting to trace the formation of his character as a future leader, warrior and builder of a huge empire. It is not for nothing that Genghis-khan was announced today as the man of the millennium. Without him the world would have taken a different path.
Praise for Alexei Gatapov’s novel Temudzhin
It was precisely the early years of his life that tempered Temujin’s character and determined his future life and thus the subsequent history of the world. He was orphaned at the age of nine and abandoned by his relatives. He had to survive on his own amidst deadly dangers, he could have perished any day - his fate was hanging in the balance. It was interesting to trace the formation of his character as a future leader, warrior and builder of a huge empire. It is not for nothing that Genghis-khan was announced today as the man of the millennium. Without him the world would have taken a different path. – Yevgeny Popov, author
“This is a truly great book. The language is colorful and precise, conveying the very spirit of the ancient Mongols. As Sholokhov immortalized the Cossacks in his epic novel, you did the same for ancient Mongols. One can see how profoundly you know your subject.” – Yevgeny Zhirkov, bibliographer
From press reviews:
“The book is evidently based on extensive ethnographic and historical material, but it reads as a living story immersing the reader into the very thick of medial Mongols’ life. The liberal use of Mongolian names for everyday objects makes it a real feast for the linguist. Of special interest are detailed descriptions of shamanic rituals and fortune telling cessions.”
“Today we badly need authors such as Lion Feuchtwanger and Henryk Sienkiewicz who managed to tell us so vivdly about the deep past. Gatapov is the author of the same quality. When you finish his book you want to read more.”
“We learnt about ancient Egypt from Boleslaw Prus’s novel Faraon. Similarly, Gatapov’s novel Temujin introduces us to medieval Mongolia. It is no less rich in historical, cultural, religious, and ethnographic information on Mongolian world than Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris is on the French world of those times.”
“Gatapov so masterfully blends the real facts about Genghis-khan’s childhood and youth with legends and myths about him that you may have the impression the author personally witnessed it all and participated in those military campaigns. The scenes of battles, hunting, nomadic camps, have been written with such artistic veracity that the reader almost feels the steppe wind on his face, the bonfire smoke and the smell of grass under the melting snow.”