Facts about what is going on in Xinjiang are notoriously hard to pin down. Over decades reporting for The Sunday Times, I watched armoured vehicles deploy in one city, counted the fresh graves in another, heard accounts of a massacre in a third and was told of young men executed for helping a British television crew. It is only through accounts such as this one — which is, of course, vehemently denied by China — that the world can sift the evidence for itself.
These caveats aside, the book is still an extraordinary testament to Sauytbay’s bravery. The horrors she experienced are largely corroborated by other witnesses, such as Anar Sabit, another ethnic Kazakh who unwisely returned home after living abroad. Her similar ordeal in the camps was published in The New Yorker last month.