Two Rivers


We are lucky enough at Steppe to have published two articles (Issues 6 and 7) using Carolyn Drake’s photos of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya; those two life-giving rivers are at the heart of Central Asia. They define the region absolutely. The land between them, called Mawarannahr (the land beyond the river) by the Arabs, is the settled heart of Central Asia, the land outside them the haunt of nomads, and the interaction of the two provides the history, the culture, the arts that we know and  love today.

Carolyn’s book ‘Two Rivers’ is currently in production, planned to appear this summer, in 2013. Of Caroyln’s obsession with these two rivers she writes, ‘The stories I found there defied many of my assumptions about the world. Stories about the diversity of Islam, intersecting languages, legendary empires, warlords, and poets; about contested borders, smuggling, energy surpluses and shortages, and political oppression.

The rivers tie these stories together in the most literal, spatial sense, but also on a more abstract level, raising universal questions about the fragility and resilience of life, and the limits of human power.’

Like Carolyn’s photographs ,the accompanying text by Elif Batuman gets to the nub of a situation at the same time as making subtle statements on humankind.

Because we are such fans of Carolyn’s work, we are keen to direct you to her fundraising page on Kickstarter. Visit and see what it is all about…