Glitter: The Two Rivers of Central Asia

Photographs by Carolyn Drake

From Two Rivers, a photo book about Central Asia by Carolyn Drake, with text by Elif Batuman and design by Sybren Kuiper. Drake and Batuman have collaborated in Istanbul and in the pages of the New Yorker.

Read the other essay here.

The sheep farmer demonstrates his hospitality and wealth by beheading a sheep. The sheep had a beautiful coat — a golden fleece.

Each room, like a murder scene, suggests multiple interpretations. Why are there footprints on the wall of an abandoned checkpoint? Who punched it? What’s the point of punching a wall? Turkmenbashi’s picture once appeared, by law, on the face of every clock and watch in the land.

The light bulb in the sheep farmer’s house is not unlike the light bulb Eggleston photographed in Mississippi. The sinuous brown wire recalls the winding waters of the Amu Darya, so coveted and so intractable.

Above the light bulb, above the ceiling, above the house, the sky is heavy with stars. Those might be bullet holes in the door.