A Book, Untitled by Shushan Avagyan

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Winner, 2023 English PEN Translates Award

“Shushan Avagyan’s Girq-anvernagir is among the most interesting phenomena of the post-Soviet era.” Taguhi Ghazaryan, literary critic

“Avagyan’s book is completely new writing within the Armenian world, as much in its form and mode as in its content.” Marc Nichanian, author of Writers of Disaster: Armenian Literature in the Twentieth Century

What is history, undocumented? How do we archive censored lives? A poetic reflection on authorship and erasure, A Book, Untitled is an intimate and innovative approach to autofiction and the act of remembering. 

In her first novel, Armenian writer Shushan Avagyan tells the story of a fictional encounter between Shushanik Kurghinian and Zabel Yesayan, two early twentieth-century pioneers of feminist literature, whose legacies have been obscured in Armenian history. Their fictive meeting is interspersed with conversations between the author and her friend Lara, who are researching the work of Kurghinian and Yesayan. While sifting through censored documents, unpublished works and unfinished drafts, they linger in speculation and piece together lives that have been overshadowed by the Tsarist and Stalin regimes.

At once electric and ephemeral, A Book, Untitled is a story of re-cognition otherwise– posthumous, imagined and intricately powerful.

Translated by Deanna Cachoian-Schanz