Three years ago, a book came out that became one of my favorites from the non-fiction shelf of the year. Craig Murray, an activist and diplomat tells his side of a very tangled story involving his time as the Ambassador from the UK to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004 – a time where he spoke vehemently about human rights violations by President Karimov’s government (he’s still in power). This obviously came at a serious professional price, especially when the issue turned to Murray’s own government’s involvement in using torture in Iraq.
It’s a strong narrative – despite the frequent detours into Murray’s personal life and his hard-drinking hobbies while in Tashkent.
The project was optioned for adaptation to the screen by Palme d’Or nominee Michael Winterbottom and set to feature his 24 Hour Party People star Steve Coogan.
I got a chance to talk to Coogan yesterday, and unfortunately, the news isn’t good news:
Murder in Samarkand is in development hell, and you can quote me on that, but it’s still a project I’d very much like to be a part of.”
It’s a worthwhile project, so I hope it can crawl out of the development ditch at some point soon. Obviously, the story is compelling (and yet, absolutely hilarious at times), and Winterbottom paired with Coogan would be a strong pair to bring it to life.