Armenian News Network / Groong May 10, 2007 Entertainment Wire By Eddie Arnavoudian LONDON, UK At a gathering in London's Armenian House on Wednesday 9 May 2007 Bob Biderman Managing Editor of Black Apollo Press launched the publication of an English language edition of Gougen Mahari's (1903-1969) controversial 1966 masterpiece 'The Burning Orchards'. To describe the event as a publishing phenomenon is no exaggeration. For the first time it makes available to millions of readers an epic novel from of one of the most outstanding 20th century Armenian writers. Offered in English through the artistic collaboration of Haig and Dick Tahta in London and Hasmik Ghazarian in Armenia, 'Burning Orchards' is Mahari's bold, original and moving evaluation of the circumstances preceeding and following the 1915 Turkish army siege of the Armenian districts of Van. Something of the excitement of the translating adventure was communicated in an account by one of the translators Haig Tahta who also read passages that displayed Mahari's renowned humour and his radical evaluations. For his out of the box evaluations Mahari paid a heavy price. When it was first published the novel fired furious controversy with it depictions of Van's Armenian revolutionary movement and its armed resistance to genocide offending both patriots and nationalists. 'Burning Orchards' was burnt in public and its author subjected to death threats. Long after his death hostile opponents continue to wreak revenge on one of Armenia's most talented poets and novelists. Yet the novel has stood the test of times and Bob Biderman's introduction that reflected something of its universal qualities suggested why. He noted how Mahari has 'managed to write about one of the most dire episodes of inhumanity while remaining, himself, humane. Like another great European writer, Primo Levi, Mahari is able to inject a touch of lightness in even the darkest of moments....' Burning Orchards he concluded 'begins in innocence and ends in blood. As such it is the story of the 20th Century, allowing us a certain understanding through voices long vanished but still demanding to be heard.' The publishers can be contacted at email@example.com Read Eddie's Critical Review of Mahari's 'The Burning Orchards' -- Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on Armenian literature. His works on literary and political issues have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open Letter in Los Angeles.
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