A Book, Untitled

(ISBN: 978-1-7367659-5-1)
Awst Press (Publisher)
2023 Austin
207 pages
Size: 5" x 7"
Language(s): English

Additional Artists

Written as a literary experiment, Girq-anvernagir was published as samizdat in Yerevan. As the reader navigates 26.5 chapters of seemingly unrelated vignettes, they discover that Avagyan, while writing the novel as a translator’s diary, is also mapping out a larger archival or archeological site: an imagined encounter between two early twentieth-century feminist writers, Shushanik Kurghinian and Zabel Yesayan. Having been obscured and forgotten through both Stalin’s regime and the patriarchal rendering of the Armenian literary and historical canons, this book recovers the legacies of these two feminist authors.

Kurghinian’s and Yesayan’s imagined encounter is juxtaposed with a contemporary conversation between the novel’s unknown narrator—an archivist and translator referred to as the “typist/writer”—and her friend Lara, who are both piecing together the writers’ fragmented stories. Uncovering these stories is no easy task:  documents are censored, authors uncited, and text is missing or italicized, as if in draft form.

If the reader finds themselves asking—How can we distinguish voices or why are they indistinguishable? Who has written, and who is writing?—then Avagyan has succeeded in her experiment to “deprivatize words,” enabling them to “belong neither to the typist/writer,” the translator, “nor to you, reader” so that instead, they “unite our past, present and future”.

In this multi-authored experiment, penned yet anew by its translator, A Book, Untitled is perhaps best understood not as an original; not as a copy; it is an/other reading.

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