New Zealand PEN Member writes Atabek

Dear Aron Atabek,

I’m a freelance editor from New Zealand and today I wrote protest letters to the Kazakhstan authorities on your behalf — as I’ve done before. I sincerely hope they listen this time. New Zealand is half a world away from your country but we still care about you down here. I heard recently that one of our Society of Authors branch meetings had an empty chair for you, which I thought was lovely.

It’s winter here, and cold, but we’re still subtropical so we never get snow, though further south there’s lots of it. Our ski fields are busy because it’s holidays here for all our schools. I teach at a local school, and also several papers at a local polytechnic on editing. The holidays are great — I catch up on the pile of manuscripts, and also spend more time with the various grand children. Last weekend several of my kids and their families came for the weekend so we had a house full. It was lovely — with others calling in we ended up with over 20 for breakfast. I hope things improve for soon, and never doubt there are people around the world thinking of you and wishing you well.

Lesley Marshall.


Dear Aron Atabek,

I have once again written to the authorities on your behalf, protesting about how far you are from your family and asking for medical help and a cane for you. I am so sorry to hear you are still in prison and poorly treated and I hope things changes soon.

I am a freelance editor and I live in New Zealand. I work mostly directly for writers which means I get a huge variety in my work — novels, short stories, memoirs, articles. Everything really. I love it and it means when I need to go and help my lads with sick babies I can take my work with me. When they were little we’d often go to the beach and they’d play on the sand or swim or go for walks while I edit under a tree. We have a lot of beaches in New Zealand because we are a long narrow island country and we’re passionate about them and the sea.

This photo was taken by a local teacher who runs a tiny weekend gallery to sell his photography in and I buy quite a lot of his cards. I love them.
I hope things improve for you soon.

Best wishes,

Lesley Marshall, member NZ PEN.