That was what literary critics and his contemporaries called Dulat Issabekov, when he became a well-known writer of Kazakhstan. When he had been just over a year old, Dulat had fallen seriously ill and …died…or so they thought. The child’s body had been put out into a cold corridor prior to its burial the following day. Everything was ready for the funeral – the long shirt the child was to be buried in and the meal for the wake after the burial. Then all of a sudden the old neighbour, who had been entrusted with the task of carrying out the infant’s body and handing it to the grave-diggers, let out a frantic scream. It turned out that the child was still alive and not just alive but laughing after catching sight of the old woman. This was how Dulat had returned from the other world just an hour before his funeral was due to start. That happened in 1943, exactly a year after his father had been killed at the Battle of Stalingrad. The writer was to recall: “We were children then, but robbed of our childhood. Our fathers had been lost at the front and our childhood in villages far away from it”.
Dulat’s mother died on the very day he joined the Communist Youth League aged 14. After that his elder brothers and sisters assumed responsibility for him and he went to a boarding-school for orphans in the town of Arys. After leaving school, Dulat was apprenticed as a fitter in railway communications. In 1961 he gained a place at the Philology Faculty of the Kazakh State University, from which he graduated in 1966.
When Dulat had been a student in his final year, a collection of his stories and novellas, entitled “Beket”, was published. It was to prove a sensation at the time. The response from critics and readers was a rapturous one.
Since 1996 – Member of Kazakhstan Social Democratic Party “Aul”. 1966 -1967 – the editor of the Kazakh Radio, served in the Soviet Army. 1971 – Head of “Zhuldyz“ Journal ; 1973 – Head of the editorial publishing “Zhalyn”; 1983 – Editor-repertoire of the editorial board of the Ministry of Culture of the Kazakh SSR; 1989 – chief editor of political books; 1991 – General Director of Radio and Television of the Kazakh SSR kazaskogo television. 1992 – Director of the publishing house “Zhazushy.” 1998 – Director of the Kazakh Research Institute of Culture and Art. D.Issabekov actively engaged in social activities. He is a member of Arts Council Of “Kazakhfilm” Sh Aimanov, a member of the political council of the party “Aul”, a member of the executive committee of the Kazakh PEN –Club. The first story Dulat Issabekov “The Way“(“В пути”) was included in a collection of stories of writers of Kazakhstan “Contemporary” in 1963, when he was still a third-year university. In the same year, in the most popular newspaper of the time, “Leninshil zhas” was published his story “Shoyynkulak” and one day, as they say, he woke up famous young writer. And in 1966, when he was still on the last year of degree, his separate collection of stories called “Becket“ was published. Literary critics unanimously celebrated his literary success and unique talent. “Becket”, “Gauһar tas”, “Notes lodger”, “Restless Days”, “line of communication”, “Wormwood”, “on the sidelines”, “Silent”, “You did not know war,” “Transit passenger” and dozens other stories were published one after the other in the press and as a separate book. And in 1980 came the publication of his novel “Қargyn” (“Confusion”), which to this day is very popular especially among the youth.
His works – “Father’s house”, “New Home in the old house,” “Transit passenger” were published in book form by Moscow publishing house “Soviet writer”, “Russian book.” The novel “Кargyn” “Atamura” (2012); Collection (in 7 volumes ). “Atamura”, 2012; “Gauһar tas”, “Atamura”, 2012; Collection of translated works, “Audarma” 2012. Movies of D.Issabekov: “Gauһar tas “(1975); “Wormwood” (1994); “Destiny” (based on the story “Tirshilik”, 1998); “Munlyk-Zarlyk” animated film, the studio (“Zhebe”) (2010); “Bird of Happiness” – the agency “Khabar” (2011); “The Lottery” – Film studio “Kazakhfilm” Sh.Aymanov (2012); «The old sister» – TV series.
Today Dulat Issabekov has dozens of novellas to his name, around forty short stories and a novel entitled “The Revolt”. He has also written over twenty works for the stage. Isabekov’s works have been published and re-published in Moscow on several occasions. Some of his novellas and stories have been translated into German, Hungarian, Czech and Chinese.
Plays by this writer are performed in theaters throughout Kazakhstan. They have also been staged in Turkey, Saint Petersburg, Omsk, Sofia (Bulgaria), Tadzhikistan and Bashkiria. In 2012 a whole international festival was devoted exclusively to his work under the title “The World of Issabekov”. Since 2014 his play “The Transit Passenger” became known in the UK too.
Dulat Issabekov was the first writer to be awarded the State Prize of Independent Kazakhstan, the prize of Kazakhstan’s Pen Club and the Platinum Prize of the independent organization “Tarlan”. Feature films have been made of Issabekov’s works “Gaukhar Tas”, “Sagebrush”, “Far and Away” and “Lottery”, «Baluan sholak» and also a documentary about his life and work entitled “The World of Issabekov” (2012). In 2014 he received an International Chingiz Aitmatov Award in the House of Lords, British Parliament for his achievements in the Literature.
In 2017 on 1st October, the opening ceremony of the Kazakh Arts Festival was held at London’s Stockwell Playhouse theatre. The festival opened with the play ‘A Man on a Mission’, which was written by renowned and award-winning Kazakh writer and playwright, Mr Dulat Issabekov, who is this year marking his 75th anniversary. Attendees included representatives from Britain’s political, business and academic communities; members of the British-Kazakh Society; heads of diplomatic missions; representatives of the Kazakh diaspora; and the media. All enjoyed performances by Kazakh theatre actors and were introduced to the best works of Kazakh drama.
The festival – which is running until 7 October – is a large-scale project which aims to introduce the UK and wider global community to Kazakhstan’s rich cultural and historic heritage. Over the week, actors from two Kazakh theatres – the Mukhtar Auezov Kazakh State Theatre of Drama and the Korean State Theatre of Musical Comedy – will perform Dulat Issabekov’s plays. This will include ‘A Man on a Mission’, ‘The Actress’, and ‘Song of the Swans’.
HONORS: Winner of the M.Auezov’s Writers’ Union (1985, for the play “Muragerler“ (Heirs)); Awarded the Order of “Kurmet” (2002); 2009 – the play “Munlyk-Zarlyk” was awarded a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Information; 2010- the play “Zhauzhүrek” won the Grand Prix in the competition “Tauelsizdik tolgauy”; 2008 – the play “Endі қayttіk? ..” ( What shall we do ?) has been awarded a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Information; Awarded the Order of “Astana” (2008); Awarded the medal of “Leo Tolstoy“, Russia (2012); 2012 – D.Issabekov was awarded the Diploma of the National Academy of Science. Awarded the Order of “Barys” (2012); 2012 – President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated D.Issabekov by special letter
Writer and playwriter, screenwriter Dulat Isabekov teaches courses in specialty “Kinoteledramaturgiya at the Academy of Arts. T.Zhurgenov.” Students of Course, adopted by him in 2007 have successfully defended their dissertations.
Currently, he is Head of the magazine “Madeniet.”