Like many of the Azerbaijanis who have left their homeland in recent years, Ümm-al-Banu Asadullayeva in 1922 was a victim of circumstance. She did not let that stop her.
A teenager when she fled the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, Asadullayeva would go on to become known to the French-speaking world as Banine, a close friend of German philosopher Ernst Jünger, and the Paris-based writer of 17 books, mostly memoirs or essays.
At her death in 1992, she was an 86-year-old woman who viewed her 17 years in Azerbaijan as something to leave behind; even though it was that very past that had fed her creativity in her new home, France.
In “Caucasian Days,” first published in French in 1946 as “Jours Caucasiens,” she describes a time that many Azerbaijanis in the post-Soviet era now idealize — the years before the Red Army invaded in 1920, and the country’s short-lived Azerbaijani Democratic Republic collapsed.
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