Translated from the Western Armenian by Jennifer Manoukian
and Ishkhan Jinbashian
With an Afterword by Marc Nichanian
A powerful novel by one of the most important twentieth-century writers
of the Armenian diaspora.
Zareh Vorpouni (1902–1980) was a prominent Armenian writer. He is the author of numerous
novels and short story collections, including The Persecuted, a cycle of four novels published
between 1929 and 1974: The Attempt, The Candidate, Asphalt, and A Regular Day.
This is the first of his novels to be translated into English.
Jennifer Manoukian is a translator of Western Armenian literature, most recently The Gardens
of Silihdar by Zabel Yessayan. Ishkhan Jinbashian is the translator of numerous books, including Passage through Hell and The Fatal Night.
Book Description »[Close »]
The Candidate is one of the most masterful, psychologically penetrating novels
in Armenian diaspora literature. Published in 1967 at a time of political
awakening among the descendants of survivors of the Armenian genocide, the
novel explores themes of trauma, forgiveness, reconciliation, friendship, and
sacrifice, and examines the relationship between victim and perpetrator.
The book opens in 1927 in Paris after Minas has found his friend Vahakn’s
body on the floor of the apartment they share. In a fragmentary way, Minas tells
of his meeting Vahakn in the cafés of the Latin Quarter; the friendship that joins
them; their conversations with Ziya, a Turkish student in Paris; Vahakn’s murder
of Ziya; and Vahakn’s suicide. At the core of the novel is the note Vahakn leaves
Minas to explain the enigma of Ziya’s murder and his own suicide. The letter recounts
Vahakn’s and his mother’s deportation from their village in the Ottoman
Empire; his mother’s death and Vahakn’s adoption by a Turkish woman, Fatma,
who rapes and abuses him; his feelings of alienation and self-estrangement in
France; and his inability to adapt to life after trauma.
Known for his innovation of the Western Armenian novel, Vorpouni challenges
the narrative elements of the conventional novel by playing with subjectivity
and linearity. His melding of contemporary French literary and intellectual
currents produces a literary and cultural hybrid unique in Western Armenian
View other series books on Middle East Literature in Translation.
6 x 9, 200 pages, 1 illustration, notes