Mukel Vfdyad’s New Book on Mongolia

by Nathan Hamm on 10/17/2005 · 7 comments

I swear to God the use of cyrillic characters by publishers should be outlawed until they get it right. As you’ll notice from the title of the post, a real number’s been done with Mykel Board’s name on the cover of his new book, Even a Daughter is Better Than Nothing. And in the excerpt on the Amazon page, you can see they did the same number with the chapters in the book. The first, for example, would be transliterated as “ope.” Of course, this is even more silly considering the book is about Mongolia. And despite the country’s recent close connection to Russia, I’m not sure that an image of Russianness that the cyrillic is supposed to evoke meshes well with popular conceptions of Mongolia. (And the connection probably isn’t worth encouraging.)

But, I suppose it’s just as well from the impression one gets from reading the excerpt at Amazon. And since some might not particularly like the following excerpt, and because it’s probably not particularly work safe in most places of employment, I’ll throw it in the extended entry.

Oy vey! My last night in New york and she wants to talk about the relationship! It’s not what I have in mind. Besides, she knew from the beginning. Or she should have. Sex is my pick and shovel, my telescope, my metal detector, my sextant. I explore with it. Discover. Sex is a quest, an adventure. As important in my life as oxygen. Gender, age, race, none of that matters. But the act, the doing, the friction. Why travel if my semen stays in one place–inside me?

And this is quickly followed up by him having to open his “locked money box” at airport security to reveal the riches–a package of condoms–he’s taking in his carry-on luggage.

He sounds representative of my least favorite type of Americans who choose to work overseas.

via Mongolian Matters (The RSS feed anyway. I haven’t seen the post on the site yet)

UPDATE–the Mongolian Matters post is back.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Sara October 17, 2005 at 11:27 am


Remember when we saw that poster for Night Watch and I kept trying to read the faux cyrillic and didn’t understand why it wasn’t making any sense for a whole minute? That book totally reminded me of that. When’s that movie coming to the States anyway?

I agree with the least favorite ex-pat thing too.

On a personal note: I keep meaning to email you back… but clearly haven’t. But I love the cat.

Andy October 17, 2005 at 11:55 am

Normally I absolve the writer from all blame in cases like this, and merely suggest that their ignorant publisher be strung up by the testicles.

In this case, however, I’m not so sure…

jodi October 17, 2005 at 5:00 pm

haha! that cyrillic is actually quite funny! i would have never gotten “Mykel Board” out of that…

guido October 17, 2005 at 6:50 pm

Nathan, actually I withdrew the post, but apperently it still showed up in the rss feed. since you refer to it, maybe I will put it back. thanks for linking anyway!

keep it up,


gk darby November 14, 2005 at 7:17 pm

It’s not cyrillic. Obviously. It’s just a weird font. The book is printed for english readers who will — no doubt — not be trying to, say, translate the font. I doubt this is a testicle stringing offense.
-G.K. Darby
Garrett Ct. Press

Nathan November 14, 2005 at 8:01 pm

No, but it’s a silly attempt at exoticization.

Really, it’s kind of cute, like when a little kid tries to shave because he saw daddy do it.

Mykel Board November 17, 2005 at 6:21 am

I was not responsible for the font, and at first I didn’t like it… because it was inauthentic. But after awhile I realized that, from a purely visiual standpoint– it looks cool.

Mongols and other users of Cyrillic will have a tough time of it– and it is “wrong.” But like the fractured English that Japanese use for effect (“I Feel Coke”), it’s right for its audience.

As for the content. No doubt about it. I’m the badguy in the book. The bumbling, horney foreigner who stumbles through local culture, like a camel splashing through airag. But there IS a hero in the book and that is the land and people of Mongolia. I think both of those come off well.

When I wrote the book, my intention was not to boost myself by making me look good against the “poor natives” of Mongolia. My intention was to make Mongolia look good against the invading hordes from The West.


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