Apparently just yesterday the powers that be in Tashkent met to appoint the successor to the unsucceedable Islam Karimov, when the proceedings were quickly interrupted and boilded into chaos when a knife-wielding clown, likely the same that had been rampaging from Finland down to Estonia, apparently on his way to Uzbekistan. Luckily, my friend Arslan Levantinov was in the room and was able to give me this brief not:


It was chaos. I know nothing. We had just been seated and Gulnara was calling for order, having just dashed in from the ladies, when this masked giant broke in and began flinging mineral water bottles about, tossing some into the air and slicing them in two with a very sharp knife that appeared to be an Andujar Bowie Special.  A ring of the nearest pols spread into the next circle and brawling ensued…I managed to snap one photo. (Security was unaccountably absent!)


God knows what is next for our country.


Letter to Arslan of Uzbekistan




Dear Arslan,


Well you’re certainly in a pickle, aren’t you? Of course I will respect your wishes to refrain from publishing your missive…your massive missive, if I may. But some of it will be…elicitable from this response, of course. And you’re right, the day filled with its minutefull hours is quite long, especially given the ticking seconds of those old fashioned clocks that clutter the whorehouses of Tashkent as well as, apparently, your government offices, while history moves like a hurricane. In this case Hurricane Islam. How could you be prepared? Good question, yet you are prepared. By a series of accidents, sure, but prepared nonetheless. And please do not use the word extraction again, for that is from the movies, and I have no such powers. I am what you rapidly figured me to be—a relative nobody with a particular interest in your country and in you. I have no special powers but to reach virtually every country in the world with the good news of the thriving sex industry in your country. In the last week, word has reached, aside from the usual US, Canada, and Slovenia, Indonesia, Sweden, Chile, Venezuela (yes, finally some inroads in the lower half of that hemisphere!), India, UK, Australia, Poland, Uzbekistan of course (sorry my statistics don’t have breakdown by region or city), United Arab Emirates, Switzerland!, Nigeria, Bahrain, Italy, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Finland, Saudi, France, Norway, South Korea, Oman, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Vietnam, Somalia!, that mysterious European Union(?) (probably Luxembourg—rich, corrupt, and horny—moyen indeed ladies!), Kuwait, Spain—All in one week, Arslan. Do you think they visit my page for my comments on dictators? Only you my friend, only you. They are grasping at…forget the metaphor. They come for the sex that you and yours provide. They don’t give a rat’s anal about boiling: take any burger of the Lux and tell him she’s yours for 200 shekels but tomorrow she boils and you’ve got yourself a deal.

Your position, I mean to say, is unassailable. No shake up is going to shake you up. No, Karimov’s touch was no golden wand, but the golden wands of the tourists are indeed tapping your noggin. Your position is secure. And I will do whatever I can to secure it, write whoever, open my books: you will see, Arlsan, there is no doubt: they come for the sex. Yes, a very few come for the literature, particularly the Vietnamese, bless their memories and intransigence. But the rest come for you and your Open City, your ten thousand Uzbeki Anna Magnanis.

images-6  images545

So don’t fear. As for the rest, THE question. No Hague for Karimov, but as you imply, what sort of Hague, what sort of lonely cells, without Kissinger, Bush, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bolton (I’m actually not sure what he is guilty of besides that moustache), Wolfowitz, Powell, Clinton, Cheney, Cheney and Cheney, Obama, and…you get the idea. You got the idea. And besides, had it turned out differently, were this another world (silly flash: Condi Karimov!), they would have mocked him in the game room even though he could beat them all at chess, and even though he would have been able to teach them bridge. Or not. Tall order. Cheney maybe, but a born cheater. Powell? None too bright. Clinton? Yes. But you need a fourth. Obama. Wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut. Kissinger? Couldn’t teach him war and he’d throw the cards first time he lost at uno. Yes, the world would be better off if only…And we may still hope, though my friends ridicule me for my unflagging (entendre double) attempts to get Henry on a plane for the lowlands. But the Boiler is now in a better place, and let us leave it at that, shall we?

All my love and support, dear Arslan (Levantinov! Long die the ich!),

Your friend in bad times and good if they arrive,



I like this photo because to me it depicts his slow fall…


For most Uzbeks, it does not matter whether the president is alive or dead

For most Uzbeks, it does not matter whether the president is alive or dead

article from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/01/for-most-uzbeks-it-doesnt-matter-whether-the-president-is-alive-or-dead


Just when I was drawing up a response to a threatening letter from Mr. Karimov, word reached me that he is probably dying or dead. This is alarming news for two reasons: first, it means V. Putin, a more formidable foe, is my correspondent if I wish to continue the back and forth; and B) it means the chance to boil Islam Karimov alive has likely been forever missed.

I’m too distraught to go on, as you might imagine, but for those who share my distress there is this thought: Henry Kissinger is still alive, and there is some chance he might be lured to Uzbekistan for a speaking engagement if a photo of Miss Uzbekistan 2013 is on the cover of the card.



Letters from Uzbekistan: Islam Karimov writes me a personal note



Dear Rick,

So far we have been indulgent and patient in regard to your blog’s focus on the lies (my behaviour) and truths (sex is cheap, safe and plentiful here, particularly in Tashkent, and one other town I will not do you the personal favor of revealing unless you visit me in private [consider this an invitation]) regarding the righteous and mighty nation of Uzbekistan of which I am Premier. I like to say ‘Premier’. Yes, Ricky, we have been quite indulgent, but keep up the slander, mention me in relation to my daughter just one more time, and you are likely to find yourself in hot water.

I expect no apologies, for people like you tend to extend such at the instant it has become too late. So here is what I suggest. Merely print THIS on your blog. I did not have anal sex with my daughter. I categorically deny having anal sex with my daughter (which is not to say that anal sex is unavailable in my country, and cheap) and I do not appreciate your adding that libelous passage to the fine letter written by my esteemed Minister of Tourism, Mr. Arslan Levantinovich.

I am sure I need not explain to you that my reach is long and my justice swiftly begun and slow to come to its fit and natural end.

Yours, and perhaps one day in a way you might find unpleasantly, let us say warm,


Islam Karimov

Premier (I really like saying ‘Premier’) of the final nation of Uzbekistan

3 Novels from Rick Harsch now available on Amazon. Read Harsch’s Adriatic and Balkan novels–prices quite low, if I may say so…


Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HNAXX62
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HNAXX62


Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HMZE6OG
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HMZE6OG


Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HMZ30XE
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HMZ30XE

About these novels:


In his USAmerican books, Rick Harsch examined the miasma of the lost souls adrift in empire. In his Indian books, he explored the nature of the foreigner gone deeper into the philosophical chaos of India than any known predecessors. Now in his Balkan/Adriatic books, he finds universals in the thrumming persistence of the harmonics of history, perpetual conflict, and delirious outbreaks of calm.

In Skulls of Istria, a tavern confession novel, a tale told by a brilliant defrocked historian whose first step into the Balkans finds history an active volcano and relates his story in an Adriatic seaside tavern to a man whose only shared language is that of drink, a story that ranges from the Spanish Civil War to seduction and the recent Yugoslav wars.

His recovery he recounts in Requiem for a Suicide, Volume 1, called Noir Slovenia, in which language itself, the Inert, and absurd action suggest a way out for the lost man of the deserts beyond post-modernity – though the second two volumes of the trilogy – works in progress – will perhaps find otherwise, as they will seek to buttress the most extreme notions of their characters, who long for an end to history while forced to search for its very beginnings.

In Kramberger with Monkey, a comedy of assassination, Harsch proves that innovative, experimental fiction can be more entertaining than detective stories, depending largely on the fate of the narrators perhaps, as he probes the surface of humanity’s darkest of jokes only to find the nexus of simian predecessors and exalted artifice.

Adriatica Deserta, an absurdist fable that brings together a mix of eccentric strangers in Zadar, Croatia, is concerned with the more recent politically lurid, occurring during the early days of US war in Afghanistan, an oddity that is perhaps explained by some simulacrum of an eternal fascism, if indeed that is what we are to take from the mysterious tale of the South American fascist Nestor Falco that intrudes on the simpler narrative of a man who has come to take up a position at an office on a street that doesn’t exist.

If there is a palpable thread connecting Harsch’s Balkan/Adriatic books, it is their unpredictability in regard to his delight in the bizarre, his range of expressions of rage, and the tendency throughout for the narration to find purchases on odd excrescences of universals, all of which leave readers space for much laughter and a choice as to degrees of chagrin.

The books can be read in any order, though it is suggested that Skulls of Istria be followed by Requiem for a Suicide Vol. 1. Volumes 2 and 3 of that trilogy are forthcoming, volume one will be out in the Fall.