After Us the Deluge

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After Us the Deluge
Author: Yūsuke Miyauchi
Specifications: ISBN  978-4041033791
384 pages
13.2 x 18.8 cm / 5.2 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
Tokyo, 2017
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This work is a political thriller set in Aralstan, a fictitious Central Asian country that was part of the Soviet Union during the Cold War period. In an improbable twist, a group of young women from the presidential harem fill the power vacuum created by the president’s assassination in 2015.

Aralstan was formed after the Aral Sea dried up as a result of environmentally damaging Soviet irrigation projects. The founding fathers, a group made up mainly of engineers and commonly referred to as “the Original Seven,” had turned a desert territory that less than 50 years before had been under water into habitable land. The country had then gained its independence in 1990 around the same time as the other Central Asian republics. Its national religion is a moderate Islam, and it is now politically part of the Commonwealth of Independent States led by Russia. But sharing a border with Uzbekistan and other states that are warming to Europe and the United States, its political situation is far from stable.

The first president of the republic, Leontiev, had gathered his concubines into a harem and subsequently organized a Privy Council among them for seeking political advice. His successor, Parvez Ali, retained the harem but also turned it into an institute of higher learning for the young women. Ali himself taught classes as part of an effort to nurture the future leaders of Aralstan. Then, at the end of summer in 2015, he is speaking on Independence Day about his vision of Aralstan as a secular Islamic republic that is an “island of freedom” based on the ideals of capitalism and democracy, when he is cut down by an assassin’s bullet. The men of the president’s cabinet and the national assembly immediately flee. With the national assembly unable to meet, Aisha Faishal, the 28-year-old leader of the roughly 80 women in the harem, rises to the occasion and, citing a document entitled “The Last Wishes of Ali” to back her claim, declares herself acting president. She selects a new cabinet from among the young women of the harem, tapping Jamila, 22, to head both the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Finance, and appointing Natsuki, 20, as Minister of Defense. Thus begins the “statecraft” of the three women.

Natsuki is a second-generation Japanese-Arali. Fifteen years ago, when the capital of Aralstan was largely leveled by Uzbekistani air raids, the apartment in which she lived with her parents had been destroyed and her parents had been killed. Thus orphaned at the age of five, she was adopted by and grew up in the harem. Aisha originally came to Aralstan from Chechenya, where an insurgency continues, and there are refugees from the conflict in Afghanistan in the harem as well. Most of the women had fled horrendous war conditions in their homelands and bore psychological and emotional scars from their experiences. If they were to be turned out of the harem—or worse, if Aralstan were to collapse and disappear—they would have nowhere to go. This is why they have taken matters into their own hands.

The new government encounters numerous difficulties between the tragic events of Independence Day and the celebration of the prophet Mohammed’s birthday in the winter. A motorcycle unit of the insurgent group Aralstan Islamic Movement (AIM), which aims to establish a traditional Islamic state, advances on the capital. The government manages to fend these forces off, but then Uzbeki troops cross the border and occupy the oil fields that are being developed jointly with Uzbekistan. During the Soviet era, a genetic engineer named Igor had created a biological weapon out of an enhanced form of anthrax, and following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bacteria were sealed inside a dam that was then under construction to create a reservoir; Igor now hatches a terrorist plot to destroy the dam and release the bacteria into the wild. Meanwhile, Uzma, who chairs the harem Privy Council, plots to assassinate Aisha on stage during a performance in which she plays the lead on Mohammed’s birthday. Uzma has had a hand in the government since the beginning of the republic, and although she recognizes Aisha’s skill as a leader, she believes she detects movement toward autocracy. Jamila turns out to be an Uzbeki spy—and President Ali’s assassin. And both Igor and Uzma are revealed to be members of the mysterious “Original Seven” . . .

In spite of it all, and in large part thanks to Natsuki, efforts to bring down the new government all collapse. A year after President Ali’s assassination, Aisha’s legitimacy as his successor is confirmed by the national assembly, assuring that her tenure will continue.

Author Yūsuke Miyauchi shows his writerly chops with nonstop action and suspense unfolding against a complex backdrop of global climate change, the dark side of the former Soviet Union, and the conflicting political interests and religious rivalries of the various republics and sects. It is a genre-busting tour de force by an author of irrepressible energy and talent.