Jalaleddin by Raffi



























Jalaleddin (A portrayal of his incursion) by Raffi

Armenian fiction

Orginal title – Ջալալեդդին

Translator – Beyon Miloyan and Kimberley McFarlane

Source – review copy

Hakob Melik Hakobian or as he was better known was considered the father of the historical novel in Armenia. Grew up in an Iranian Armenian family in the northwestern of Iran. He was taught by the local priest till he was twelve. Then was sent out to a renowned boarding school in Tbilisi. Then he spent time traveling in the Armenian border areas of Eastern and Western provinces where he saw for himself that villagers largely unarmed that were under constant attack from either the Turks or Kurds.. These travels and what he saw affect his writing but also led him to want to teach his fellow countrymen of the plight and what to do with it. This is his best-known book he wrote many other works which I hope Sophene the publisher will consider translating.

He was approaching thirty years of age. His face was pallid and hairless, his cheeks were dry, and his jaw protuded. His thin, gray lips often revealed his sno-white teeth. His black, curly hair fell upon his bare , sunburnt shoulders. His forehead bore a deep scar, which gavehis face a frightening appearence, but he nonetheless retained a distinctive masculine beauty that reflected bravery and ciurage and ferocity.

The young man was tall and lean, with strongbones and a muscular build. He was dressed like a kurd and fully armed; his asian rifle and scimitar, pair of pistols, metals sheild and long spear looked as though they were part of his body

The young man as he first appears in the book.

Set in Eastern Anatolian Mountains and the villages in that region during the Russo-Turkish war from May 1877. This is a young man’s journey into the horror that follows that attacks in that region. Dressed like a Kurd with a rifle he sets off in a valley he had been in before where he had once heard shepherds sing and life but now there was none he meets some Kurd warriors that offer him food but he isn’t in the mood to eat. Then he finds and Buries his father he buries him but instead of turning back he is drawn nearer the violence of the war and what is happening to the people of the region. The story is told in short chapters as we follow this young man as his eyes are opened and he sees the Ashbak area twenty-four villages of Armenians wiped out by Jalaleddin and his Kurds have ravaged the land. The Kurds is driven by their Bigotted ideas and love of pillaging. Can the young man turn the table round?

Having buried his father’s body in his simple grave, the young man continued on his journey. He was traveling like a mad-man, trapped in bitter thoughts. He had lost his father,mother and brother and sisters, and was now in a state of doubt about the one he loved. He hurried onward, but there was still a ling way to go until he reached her village.

He was taking impenterable passages, surrounded by cliffs, shrubs and bushes, and thourgh which a whole army could have remained hidden from the eyes of the traveller, so he was suprised to ear mysterious sounds followed by his name being called:”Sarhat,Sahrat!”Who could it be? there is hardly a man in that area who could have recognized him, and although he had friends, hehad sent the away on a number of errands a few days ago.

He has his quest the reason for his being there.

This is the second book from Armenia I have read one Modern and this a classic the linking factor is War the new novel showed the aftereffects of War on a single person whereas this is a descriptive work on the aftermath of war on a population the young man remembers the villages and hills with the shepherds and even his own family. This is based on the effects of the war Raffi saw for himself at the time. Although a work of fiction in the afterword it is pointed out that some of the characters are thinly veiled references to real people at the time. This is a short book told in choppy compact chapters that are like dispatches from the frontline of the Russio- Turkish war and the aftermath on the Christian population of Anatolia.

June 2019


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