The Door was Open by Karine Khodikyan

The Door was Open by Karine Khodikyan

Armenian short stories

Original title ԴՈՒՌԸ ԲԱՑ ԷՐ

Translator  Nazareth Seferian

Source – review copy

Something I have enjoyed the last few years is the books from Armenia that Glagoslav has been great to read as there are so few books from Armenia around to read. So we have another Armenian writer here Karine Khodikyan she has been a teacher and Journalist, also edited a couple of magazines, and was also the deputy culture minister for a period of time. She has written plays which has been staged around the world and hosts a tv show on Armenian  TV and is currently writing a humorous Detective novel this is her first work to be translated into English.

Every time, one second before she took the key out of her bag, herfinger seemed to be covered in frost, and each time it seemed certain that the yellowish metal would touch her finger and chafe some of the skin. But when she opened the door and the emppty darkness of her corridor rapidly embraced her with greed, she wpuld feel like she was growing acquainted with her own grave. and when she would sticj her hand into darkness woth the same rapidity to find the switch and turn on the light, she would onece again feel assured that being alone with death would scare her.

The opening of the door was open paints that darkness that is felt in the tales.

The stories all have female characters at the heart from the opening tale the title story of the collection with a story of women and her growing fear of an attack by a serial killer that is killing single women the man bare-chested she mocks him coming to her until an open door and a sudden noise makes her feel somewhat different. Then in Etude, we have a warring couple a husband and wife that are arguing but the wife is always the one coming out on top in their arguments due to her superior language skills. But my favorite tale of the ones in this collection was the smell of bread and death the story of a family history told through the smell of bread being made a family of gravediggers told from the grave. Then we have a monster under the bed at the heart of a childhood tale. But elsewhere death lingers of these dark tales a collection that is a great intro to an interesting writer.

The first time he realized that his family was different had been before he had even turned five. He would libe a few years more and turn twelve before he fully understood, before that wet, cloudy day when his father did not even look in his direction as he said in an unusal voice(or as he would consider later, a guilty voice), or perhaps one could say he asker,

“Come with me..”

But there was still time left before that day would arrive , and Avet, who was not yet fivem would never forget the loneliness that invaded him when he realized that his family was living in that town with the stigma of being different,No he didn’y trmember which grade he was when he was when he read the word “stigma” in a textbook for the first time and relaized that he had found it. His family stigma..

The stigma of being the twon gravediggers hangs over the family in the story The smeel of bread and death.

the collection has a female voice and perspective even when the characters are male it shows the female as in Etude it is the wife that is the stronger character. But there is also darkness and melancholy all over these tales from childhood scares of a monster under the bed. To a half-naked serial killer going around killing single women. Then the stigma of coming from a family of gravediggers there is a veil of darkness over these tales but they draw the reader in. Khodikyan has a way of blurring time so the reader feels as though they’re floating in time at times. The vivid prose style comes through at the time with a richly descriptive style at time sticky dark floors the translator has done a great job keeping such passages that add to the feel of darkness in the stories. I keep saying tales as there is at times a feeling of dark fairy tales in the collection. Have you a favorite book from Armenia?

Winstons score +B a great intro to a new writer

 

Robinson by Aram Pachyan

Robinson by Aram Pachyan

Armenian fiction

Original title – Ռոբինզոն 

Translator – Nazareth Seferian, Nairi Hakhverdi, Arevik Askharayan, Nyree Abrahamian

Source – review copy

I have reviewed the debut novel by Aram Pachyan a couple of years ago. This was meant to be part of a collection of books from Armenia that Glasgoslav had brought out and Aram was to give a speech about writing here is that speech.  which I really enjoyed so I am pleased to review this short story collection from one of the leading writers in Armenia. This book won the presidential prize in Armenia. His books have topped the chart in his home country. His works have been adapted into Musicals and experimental play of his book goodbye bird which I reviewed here.

He opened the box with his eyes closed, his breayth held. The colourful ornaments were quietly asleep on the cream-couloured paper. On the surface of those decorations, he saw the sad reflection of his face and the curvy shadows od his pointy hair. In the box, there were layers upon layers of ornaments and streamers hich adorned their christmas tree every year. The small plastic Christmas tree that his parents had brought in the city of Vandzor a long time ago, even before he was born. It’s skelton had grown weak over the years, its green leaves had melted here and there from the heat of the lights. Every year, when he placed the tree, his father would use a copper wire to fasten the tree’s thin trunk to the four legged base, so that it would not fall over.

A proustian moment of a christmas tree remember a close moment with his father.

This is a collection of 16 stories that seem to capture what it is like growing up in Armenia and also the loneliness of modern life. The title story is a nod to the ultimate tale of being alone that of Robinson Crusoe. A series of letters between   Robinson and Friday that then leads to children and their teacher. This gives the tale of being alone a modern twist. Elsewhere there are street chess players. A young boy falls for the local girl of his dreams of her in a sexual way then later on he takes a local girl he has fallen for out she gets drunk he has to go back to the same aunt for some money to bail him out. There are dreams of escape where a young boy reads of Toronto and dreams of escaping there. Mothers trying to sort out their drunk husband by drugging the father to keep him from drinking is observed by a child. In places, the tales feel personal as a number of the characters are called Aram. The most touching was a son whose father is dying remembering the closeness the putting of up of the tree brought him and his father. Who is dying in the hospital he wonders if his father sees a tree there in the hospital and is remembering those moments as well !!

I was embarrassed: how could I ask those boys for more money when they had worked all day like slaves? No, I couldn’t ask them .. What should I do …What should I do ? The thought was born in my head scared me , but the fear felt very pleasent, for the first time I wished to properly feel fear, it was like being run over by a car, when you somehow avoid the blow and manage to calm down afterwards …How I went, I don’t know.. Did I go, did my childhood go? I don’t know. I knocked on the apartment door of number 19 and Lia opened it

Having been made broke by the drunk local beauty he goes to his aunt for some money.

On the back cover, it says the stories contain the inescapable loneliness of people in the modern world. It is a hard world at times he describes tough times tough people also a world where drink and violence can just bubble below the surface. These are great observational pieces the little everyday things are captured here. The despair of a story like John Cheever swimmer can be seen in this collection the despair in the modern world but also the dreams of past and future at times. This lifts the lid on a hard life and a world that we can be thankful we aren’t in.

A quartet from Armenia

 

I have reviewed two books from Armenia one was by Aram Pachyan which I loved. So when I saw that there was four new books from Glagoslav from Armenia.

Robinson by Aram Pachyan was his debut collection won a presidential medal 16 stories each story is a small but sharp painting of various characters. a look at loneliness in the modern world. He was meant to launch these books with a speech a London book fair here is a link to the text of that speech. called the importance of difficult steps .

Raven before Noah by Susanna Harutyunyan Harout raised and saved by an old man grew up in an abandoned village that is home that has escaped torture from Turkey set between 1915 and 1960  one of the most acclaimed writers in Armenia

The door was open by Karine Khodikyan her fiction can be described as intellectual fiction for women. These short stories with a “MYstical touch” tell stories about women – young and old, happy and sad; even when the protagonist is not a woman, the story will immerse you into the life of a woman, revealing her role in anything and everything. These sound great don’t they !!

Point Zero by Narek Malian two historical stories set during the crusades on in Syria and then about pope urban starting the crusades a third story is a love story between a french  woman and a young Arab man in 2015 in Paris

This is a great new insight I looked at the three percent database and that in the ten years on the database there was only three books from Armenia published so this is a great leap forward!

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