The story of the political, social, and cultural destruction of Tahir Hamut Izgil's homeland. Among leading Uyghur intellectuals and writers, he is the only one known to have escaped China since the mass internments began. His book is a call for the world to awaken to the unfolding catastrophe, and a tribute to his friends and fellow Uyghurs whose voices have been silenced.
There are no scenes of torture, no violence and few sweeping proclamations about genocide. Izgil writes with calculated restraint. As his title suggests, the terror is in the anticipation ... This is in effect a psychological thriller, although the narrative unfolds like a classic horror movie as relative normalcy dissolves into a nightmare ... Izgil is a soft-spoken poet, not an orator or activist; that’s perhaps one reason his understated account is so effective.
One of the best available histories of the genocidal policies in Xinjiang since 2015, and is especially valuable as an on-the-ground, first-person account ... The story is all the more powerful for the matter-of-fact way Izgil tells it ... We can only hope that with this translation, Izgil’s gripping story and Uyghur literature generally will gain more well-deserved global attention.
Lucid and quietly terrifying ... Personal experience and rumor have their narrative limits; those seeking a deep dive on, say, Xinjiang’s 2009 Uyghur-Han riots must look elsewhere. But we don’t turn to poets like Izgil for crunchy history. Instead, read Waiting to Be Arrested at Night for its many human-scale moments of sorrow and grace.