He is arguably the most famous Abkhaz writer, renowned in the former Soviet Union for his vivid descriptions of Caucasian life, mostly written in Russian. He has written various stories, most famously "Zashita Chika", which star a crafty and likable young boy named "Chik".
The most famous intellectual of Abkhazia, he distanced himself from the Abkhaz secessionist strivings in the late 1980s and criticised both Georgian and Abkhaz communities of Abkhazia for their ethnic prejudices. He warned that Abkhazia could become a new Nagorno-Karabakh.
He is probably best known in the English speaking world for Sandro of Chegem, a picaresque novel that recounts life in a fictional Abkhaz village from the early years of the 20th century until the 1970s, which evoked praise for the author as "an Abkhazian Mark Twain." Mr. Iskander's humor, like Mark Twain's, has a tendency to sneak up on you instead of hitting you over the head. This rambling, amusing and ironic work has been considered as an example of magic realism, although Iskander himself said he "did not care for Latin American magic realism in general". A section of the novel dealing with Sandro's encounter with Joseph Stalin was made into the Russian film Baltazar's Feasts, or a Night with Stalin in 1989.
Iskander currently resides in Moscow. He is a writer for the newspaper Kultura.
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