Armenian News Network / Groong

The Critical Corner - 03/02/2015


Zoryan: chronicles of the early 20th century

Armenian News Network / Groong
March 2, 2015

By Eddie Arnavoudian


>From the early 1910s to the early 1930s, short story writer Stepan
Zoryan (1889-1967) produced some of the finest portraits of life as it
was actually lived by the people of eastern Armenia during what were
turbulent decades of unprecedented political upheaval and radical
historic transformation; from just before World War One and Genocide
to the early Soviet era; from centuries of statelessness and a hundred
years of Tsarist colonial domination of what was little more than a
Caucasian provincial backwater, to the First and then the Soviet
Armenian Republics.

Zoryan who described himself as a 'chronicler of my times' observed
these decades with critical, dispassionate precision, free from
distorting preconceptions, free from the all too familiar
propagandistic patriotism of well-intentioned but didactic authors,
but always generous with that 'dough of life', as Hagop Oshagan put
it, that gives literature an enduring value. It is a measure of his
accomplishment that a century and more after their creation, Zoryan's
protagonists are instantly recognisable despite, or precisely because,
fixed brilliantly in the reality of early 20th century eastern Armenia,
they are sculpted seamlessly in their national particularity and their
inherent universality.

Teeming with unique, full-blooded yet socially typical characters, the
authenticity, vitality and freshness of Zoryan's fictional world
recalls Hovanness Toumanian and Aksel Bakunts.  Tales, taut with
dramas of the most ordinary of men and women, tell of how they
actually related to and coped with events that in their totality
reshaped global and Armenian life. Zorian charts those bloodless
brutalities of 'normal', everyday unequal social and individual
relations, the silent brutalities that even today reduce millions,
render them passive, their existence atomised and alienated. He
registers the impact of war and revolution and also movingly tells of
relations between eastern Armenian communities and invading Turkish
soldiers as well as grasping profoundly the damage done by the
dehumanisation of women, and of men, in war time and in peace.

Throughout there surfaces an inspirational humanism, not as abstract,
external imposition, but manifest in wonderfully conceived characters
and their relations, a humanism that notes and acknowledges the
stubbornly enduring humanity of his protagonists at their most
dehumanised - of women particularly, but also of the demonised `Turk'
of Armenian chauvinism. Suffused with empathy and pathos Zoryan's work
shows men and women to be broader, and nobler, than the forms into
which they are pressed and narrowed by social or national distortions,
by superstitions and obscurantisms. It allows him from the crevices of
impossible conditions and events to map possibilities for
transformation and transition from abject passivity and isolation to
optimistic collective action, from national hatred to human
solidarities.


I. Bloodless brutality

Nighol Aghbalian was right to give the young Zoryan a warm welcome on
the 1918 publication of 'Sad People', his first volume of short
stories. It shows immediately an instinctive knack for summoning
character and personality with just one detail or two. Many a piece
shows in addition finesse in the evocation of emotion and mood with
telling poetic metaphor or turn of phrase. Entered into narrative that
is itself simplicity and clarity, these focus relationships revealing
of the 'sadness' of the title. Prompting much debate in its day it is
a title suggestive of an existential 'sadness', of helplessness,
isolation and abuse, the `sadness' of miserable egoism and selfishness,
of impotence before the powerful, a 'sadness' all the more tragic for
being cemented by assumptions of the unalterable permanence of what
is.

The brutality of silently tolerated, 'most ordinary' humiliating and
demeaning relationships are cut into every page on which Zoryan's
nimble, firm and fluent narrative sketches master and servant, husband
and wife, teacher and head teacher, as well as local shopkeepers,
lovelorn maids, servants, migrant workers, radical students,
ex-prisoners, beggars, clerical workers, priests, imposters, egotists
and others. All real individuals, none are warped by artificial or
imposed patriotic, national or other attributes, men and women from
the backwaters of any age and any land, but here they speak Armenian
and depicted in their national provincial small towns and villages
under Tsarist occupation.

Ordinary, 'average' men and women, blighted by the meanness, petty
cruelty and arrogance of the everyday, are unable to shape their own
lives and powerless to challenge life-defining misfortune, they exist
passive and fatalistic. For them life offers nothing notable. Trapped
in a social marsh, sunk into grooves by forces unbeknownst, there is
no flood of passion, no vision or drive of ambition that would
fertilise enthusiasm and announce release. Yet, within the limits of
even such existence, still suffered by millions today, Zoryan draws
out the truly tragic in that which has been wasted, that which has
been lost, squandered, stolen, abused and disdainfully discarded, all
etched with searing empathy.

'The Trustee' personifies the arrogance and vulgarity, the petty
tyranny and pretension visited upon the common people by petty
provincial elites, in fact, nothing but minor disposable cogs. Here
our trustee who tries to pass himself off as a notable national
benefactor is just a philistine shopkeeper lording it over those
beneath and weaker, ensuring, always, that his own pockets are lined
at everyone else's expense. 'Father Simon', a man of the Church,
another pillar of the community, is of the same cut. Self-centered,
scheming, he always has an eye open for the business opportunity,
readily abusing customs of hospitality with no regard for exhausted
hosts expected to treat and feed him. Though mean and going about his
business with a sack-full of medieval superstition, Father Simon is
nevertheless also a sad figure, suffering the grief of three sons lost
to fatal illness. 'Dinner' is a masterly summing of the exercise of
whimsical power by these elites, their humiliation of subordinates,
and in particularly Armenian elite form, their contempt for the lower
classes of their own nationality. Servitude, akin to serfdom is
shocking. The master introduced ordering dinner, holds the servant's
savings, savings accumulated to allow his wife to buy a cow. So he
dare not protest or complain, nor can he leave. He has to put up with
any whim of a lord thus untouchable.

Short, but full of movement stories mark out lives fallen beyond
networks of solidarity and support. A hapless young migrant labourer
from Lori, just released from prison, wanders the streets of Tbilisi in
search of help from a relative, a shopkeeper whose success is due to
the youngster's father. But to the shopkeeper his relative now
represents only a sum in profit and loss accounts. In Tbilisi's world
of commerce, rural bonds of community and solidarity count for nothing.
The young man is packed off after being pressed into buying a 'Sugar
Bowl' for which he has absolutely no need. Elsewhere two street
beggars battle 'On the Pavement' for territory and favour from
passers-by. A pathetic older man, part crippled, cannot measure up to
a younger woman in this war of survival of the fittest. Extremes of
isolation produce a callous indifference to misfortunes even of those
sharing the same pitiable fate. Even a flawed end does not detract
from the depiction of a life wasted, fallen victim to emotional and
mental illness, here in 'Bropos' suffering hypochondria and an
unreasoned terror of calamity and fire.

Men and women existing without prospect endure silent and passive.
Zoryan has penned with force this noiseless submission, unconscious
even of its own alienation. Removed from any circle of solidarity, his
stories show such existence as an affront to humanity, as a subtraction
from and a rejection of what people are, of what they had hoped to or
could have been. More than a comforting reminder of `there but for the
grace of good fortune go I' `Sad People' evokes indignant questioning
of any order that so abandons millions.


II. Into the mainstream - war and humanism

On the margins of the Tsarist Empire, as far as any margin could be,
eastern Armenia, as with every other colonial outpost, was
nevertheless, never too far for the state's tax collector or its
military conscription officer. And so at the outbreak of World War One
thousands of young men from the remotest of villages, were called up
to fight and die in the mud of distant trenches, in battles neither of
their making nor in their communities' or nation's interest. It was
grand historical irony then that it was to be this war and the
revolutions that followed that drew the men and women of provincial
eastern Armenia into the mainstream of global developments. To
essential moments of this process Zoryan was a witness-chronicler of
the highest order.

Regarded often as Zoryan's best collection, judged to match those of
highly acclaimed European masters, `The War' (1925) rarely turns to
the battle front, treating primarily of its impact upon those who
remain at home and those who return maimed. Laced with laconic,
sardonic humour the volume is a stern judgement against those who
orchestrate war, against those who, - always away from any dangerous
battlefield, - transform the sons of the common people into killing
machines. Though Tsarist or European elites rarely appear, but at
every stage their absolute power is evident. It is they, not the
people who make all decisions, who bring about death and destruction,
who put out the lights. A breath-taking grasp of the minutia of rural
life portrays the powerlessness of the common man and woman in the
face of elites that mobilising for war disrupt the rhythms of
community life and of rural labour with no concern for human
consequence. As striking is the damning of predators who posture,
exploit and profit from war at everyone else's expense. Yet as glows
of hope amid the tangled veins of blood and hate are singular
experiences that draw together those pitted against each other by
their masters.

The volume opens with a matchless backdrop of location and time. With
sons and relatives at war, eager for news, illiterate craftsmen, rural
labourers and village folk gather round 'The Reader', shopkeeper
Minas, who, with evident difficulty, reads newspaper reports from
battles in faraway places they have little inkling of. Moving is a
mother's naïve hope that the press will carry a report of her son's
whereabouts or well-being. Cut with endearing humour, a pompous Minas
is shown desperately defending his 'educated' status from the
questioning of a wise albeit illiterate blacksmith. Minas however
enjoys an almost priestly status for he can at least read. Zoryan
doesn't lose the opportunity to poke fun at pretentious journalists of
his time (and ours!) who make Minas's task that much more difficult by
their mass deployment of incomprehensible and redundant foreign words.

Thereafter a constellation of stories describe terrains ranging from
the Russo-German trenches ('Besides the Well') to Russo-Turkish and
Armenian-Turkish fronts nearer home. Stories of families awaiting
letters from silent sons in distant lands ('War'), stories of the
tragedies of post- traumatic stress, for victim and family (Vahan's
Pain'). Others put to shame the loud-mouthed cowardice of privileged
youth donning patriotic airs ('The Patriot), expose cynical traders
taking advantage of women widowed in war ('At the Market'), describe
war changing even the most stubborn of habits ('Good Fortune') and how
it often compounds women's oppression ('Zakar's Daughter in Law'), how
it treats them as domestic cattle to be bought or sold. They touch
also on the humanising, qualities of music ('The Song'), on the
experience of prisoners-of-war, the loss of all sense of worth by the
maimed unable to further serve their families.

Some of these dramas weave an oft neglected truth: much of war's
suffering, pain and death is caused not by the enemy but by one's own
people, by cruelties, prejudices, backward tradition and custom,
especially against women already trapped in webs of subordination and
misogyny. The fatal antagonists of 'Zakar's Daughter in Law' are not
invading Turkish soldiers but her own community and family. Esther is
taken away by Turkish soldiers who capture her village. But she is not
killed, nor is she raped. Yes, she possibly could have been. But she
managed to escape. No one however will believe her account of escape
or that her `honour remains intact'. Even as this may reflect
expectations of Turkish soldiers, the brutish fact is that a woman's
word has no weight. Shunned and disbelieved Esther is driven to
suicide, murdered by a 'code of honour' so vicious that had she indeed
been raped she would have been ostracised anway. The mother in 'In the
Market' is also victim to an Armenian not a Turk! Set in Yerevan
amidst panic selling as Armenian inhabitants prepare to flee enemy
advance, an impoverished war widow also selling wares to feed two
children is trapped and abused by a misogynist sexual predator (Note 1).

Blood cannot however drown all that which is shared by human beings; a
common humanity is never permanently cancelled by war. In 'The Song'
we witness moments that rise above warring hatreds. The looming figure
and haunting melody of 'The Song', sung by a Turkish singer urging a
halt to hostilities mesmerises both sides who for a period down their
guns. As if in silent prayer Armenian and Turk appear as one as they
listen and feel deeper affinities of nobler selves. 'The Song' is one
of those pieces that affirm those objective human, cultural and social
affinities and that stand as a promise for better futures. Whilst some
stories are flawed by a romanticism that is pale, here it is sustained
by poetic flight in description and depiction.

Heart rending and heart-warming come together in 'Ohan's Death' that
revealing of deeply felt hatreds and prejudices tells in the face of
these an inalienable truth. Armenian and Turk despite nationality are
of the same human family. Executed by his own side for allegedly
supplying intelligence to the enemy, Ohan was only helping a sick
young Turkish solider to join his retreating battalion. Prior to this,
driven by murderous hate for Turks whose soldiers had killed his own
son, Ohan had planned to murder the Turkish boy to death as he lay
helplessly ill at his mercy. But murder of another human, whatever
their nationality, is never easy. And with Ohan it proved impossible.
When in a moment of recovery the Turkish boy opens his eyes, in them
and in his features, Ohan sees his own son. Vengeance and hatred
dissipate to bloom a human generosity that drives him to aid the boy's
return to his own.

If only in microcosm, solidarities free of nationalist and state
animosities surface in most unusual conditions. Trapped in a trench on
a baking hot day, desperately parched trooper Barseghian risks
venturing to fetch water for himself and his comrades from a 'Nearby
Water Well', positioned in the middle of no-man's land that separates
German and Tsarist troops. He succeeds. Conscious of an essential
human need for water, conscious of the humanity of their opponents,
Tsarist troops allow them too to relish the pleasure of a drink. As if
recognising that 'we are all water', there follows a joyful
fraternising among both sides. It is a humanising joy not shared by
higher echelons and the officer who turned a blind eye to it is
executed. But so begins a questioning and a challenging.


III. The triumph of the 'sad people'

As the tides of the 1917 Russian revolution washed across eastern
Armenia, Stepan Zoryan was there again, in the last stage of his
chronicling career, noting with unquestionably sympathy what he sensed
to be an empowerment of 'sad people'. However in 'Early Days' (1930)
and elsewhere this sympathy is no dogmatic 'socialist realist'
cosmetic surgery, no doctrinaire eulogy to 'the Party' or to an
abstract ideology of 'proletarian class struggle'. Never a loudspeaker
for apparatchiks or bureaucrats, behind slogans and banners of the
revolution, Zoryan looked for the ordinary human.

Scrutinising some of the difficult issues of the early revolutionary
process - the splitting of families, the choices this left to those
allied to opposing political trends, the challenging of religious
certitudes among older generations, the ARF-Bolshevik clash, the
campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, the fortunes of a hitherto
privileged but now deposed clergy - Zoryan shows how in times of any
upheaval the weakening and breaking of old law and custom facilitates
the release of people from fetters and so enables a bloom of energy
and ambition. `Early Days' capture such moments when 'sad people',
especially women, were able to stand and insist that they too have
something to contribute, potentials to realise, dreams to bring to
life.

'The Librarian' is exciting with the energy and spirit of young
Victoria emerging as a communist militant and leader and marks well
the space the revolutionary process created for women to flourish. It
charms with scenes of Victoria's mum coming to terms with her
daughter's defiance of tradition, her participation in the public
sphere previously reserved for men, with the challenges that this
represented to her view of women's role, as well to her preconceptions
of religion. 'The Teacher' warms hearts as it unfolds a woman's
experience in the early Soviet Armenian campaign to eradicate
illiteracy. Showing Margo attaining independence and collective
respect as she strives to realise ambition, it describes the
transformation of egotistic, self-seeking ambition into fulfilment
through acts of social solidarity.

A short novel, 'The White City' captures something of social ambition
released in the early Soviet years with its account of the laying of
city foundations according to assumed 'socialist principles'. It
registers something also of the contradictory character of small-town
life, bringing alive relations between men and women, between party
and non-party people and the clash between party functionaries trying
to build the town inspired by socialist ideals and the semi-peasant
town population with its pre-Revolutionary intelligentsia. As we meet
Dikran, his wife Anna and her affair with the town architect - Minas -
a bourgeois to the bone, 'The While City' reveals well the subjugated
condition of the married Armenian woman depicting at the same time
possibilities of liberation afforded by the early revolutionary
period. Her demand, as a condition of preserving her marriage, that
she be allowed to go out to work is historically authentic.

Whirling around 'The Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee' are the
miseries of families split by struggles between the ARF heading the
First Armenian Republic and Bolshevik revolutionaries seeking its
overthrow. A mother is fretful for her two ARF sons arrested by the
Bolsheviks. All the more dreadful a fret as her daughter is married to
the chairman of the revolutionary committee responsible for the
arrest! The anguish, the regrets and the strife are telling. 'The Last
Priest' about a clergy still tolerated in these early days is an
impressive picture of opportunist careerism with priests ready to
enter service, not for the saving of souls from Bolshevik atheists,
but for income in unstable times and that only after having compared
and calculated against other sources!

At his best when describing society and people at their most passive
and troubled Zoryan's stories of revolution are rather diminished,
marked by a retreat from critical engagement, by an anaemic quality
often cloaked with unconvincing romanticism. Victoria of the superior
'The Librarian', is but one example. She is just too virtuous, an
almost spotless, sinless angel of revolution! Where are the darker
sides of individuals and circumstance of which there had to be more
than a few? Perhaps the writer's sympathy for men and women now
standing upright blurred critical vision! Though never a communist,
Zoryan was perhaps carried away by the potential for emancipation held
out by the revolutionary process. The best of these stories he
composed before the final triumph of Stalinism. Yet even so early,
Zoryan as a supporter of popular emancipation perhaps bent to those
who, having seized power in the name of the people, expected the left
intelligentsia's accolades as a counterweight to those who denounced
the revolution as a Satanic triumph.

'Early Days' remains nevertheless a significant literary
reconstruction critically grasping the truth that the common people's
sympathies for revolution were always functions not of doctrinaire
ideology, of 'Bolshevik manipulation' or 'deceit' but of the most
ordinary bread and butter issues that 'sad people' in Armenia and
beyond had dreamt of and even fought for, long before any contact with
revolutionary ideology and politics or with the Bolshevik Party. If
not warts and all, in Zoryan's revolutionary stories we still measure
real and authentic men and women of the times, men and women not yet
ossified in that compound of a corrupted 'socialist realism' to be
then transformed into lifeless wooden heroes a triumphant Stalinism.


IV. A man of stature and principle

Most of Stepan Zoryan's creative career was to be in what became
Soviet Armenia. He attained there deserved national standing and
played an active role in literary life. Throughout however and despite
Stalinist purges and bureaucratic tyranny, he made no concessions of
substance, especially to the vulgar proponents of socialist realism.
He would rather stop writing altogether. Insisting that the artist
must portray everything he rejected notions that Soviet society had no
warts. But truths of Soviet Armenia in the late 1930s, 1940s and '50s
were not to flow from his pen. When pressure to idolise and so falsify
Soviet life became too great Zoryan returned to historical fiction, a
genre he had attempted earlier (Note 2).

But as a full stop to his chronicling career, prior to a turn to 5th
century Armenia, Zoryan published 'The Story of a Life', a drumming,
dancing, marching fictional account of childhood and youth in
north-eastern Armenia at the turn of the 20th century. More than an
engrossing account of life amid poverty, foreign oppression and
backward social customs, here is an illumination of the story of life
itself, a thrilling read with charming recreation of the fantasy of
childhood blending its mix of chaotic emotions, confusions, strivings
and appetites, innocent ambitions, pleasures and pains. On virtually
every page we encounter the magic and the tragic of early life.

Central to Souren's life is resistance to foreign occupation at a time
when all Armenian schools were closed by the Tsarist authorities as
part of their strategy to undermine the emerging Armenian national
movement. Souren's subsequent transition to adulthood is captured
movingly in the accounts of his unrequited love for Anahid. It may be
bold and debatable, but it is reasonable to assert that `The Story of
a Life' compares well with Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. Both
convey with wit and humour the wonder, the adventure, the mystery and
the magic of childhood. They both recover the frequently forgotten
reality of a child's universe that is marked by broad, profound,
enormously diverse emotional and intellectual experiences touched by
an unfathomable innocence that makes childhood so enchanting.

Always a master of his craft, Zoryan's historical trilogy - 'The
Armenian Fortress', 'King Pap' and the lesser `Varazdat' - is at many
points a thrilling read. But it does not elevate the Armenian
historical novel above its entrenched mediocrity. Intelligent
speculation and imaginative flight supplement paucity of historical
fact serving to recreate historical circumstance with some
credibility. As he weaves his plot Zoryan's novels address many of the
social and political realities of the time - relationships between
serf and nobility, the role of the Church, the clash between monarch
and his lords, the conflicts between Armenia and Byzantium. Yet the
impression remains of a historical textbook in fiction, first class as
such, but short of quality, inadequateaabfvly fixed in historical time.

Beyond his fiction Zoryan was prolific in other spheres, refashioning
Armenian folk tales, fables and legends, writing children's stories,
sketches, film scripts and much more. Memoirs of literary and cultural
figures of his time, as well as perceptive and sharp critical reviews
of books and theatre, including a fine series on his beloved Toumanian,
stand out. As a marker of independent and bold intellect is a fine
appreciation and dashing defence of poet Vahan Derian before his
Soviet era idolisation when Derian had been subject to denigration for
his membership of the Bolshevik Party. Always forthright and forceful,
when he was wrong, Zoryan was terribly wrong; his brutal axing of
Gourgen Mahari's `The Burning Orchards' being a regrettable case. A
regrettable failure of literary judgement maybe, but one that remains
honourable for having nothing in common with the poisonous `patriotic'
denunciations and book burnings that erupted on the first publication
of `The Burning Orchards'.


			      *  *  *  *

Renowned `sixties novelist Hrant Matevosian judged Stepan Zoryan 'a
mighty exponent of classic prose' adding:

  'If Armenian prose has any anything that raises it to international
  standards, it is almost solely a result of Zoryan's short stories.'

Zoryan's was talent, even genius, disastrously squandered, a
squandering about which he felt bleeding bitterness to the end of his
life. Bitter for being denied the opportunity to create to his full
abilities instead of a professional writer being forced into the
business of translation! He was bitter too, and with justification,
for dismissal and disrespect he suffered at the hands of the zealous
young vanguard of Soviet Armenian literature, Bakounts and Charents
among them. It all bursts out in an 'Autobiographical Note' that
remained in his lifetime unpublished:

    'I judge myself as one who could perhaps have become a writer of
    some quality, that is if conditions had permitted...Alas I have
    never been a professional author, having devoted myself seriously
    to literature only for five years, from 1915-1920...Thereafter
    concerns for earning a wage, and other circumstances too, blocked
    me doing that which I loved most...And if I have produced anything
    original, it has been in between translating, editing and other
    peripheral work....I had a great deal of substantial material
    ready for production. But I avoided any return so as not to suffer
    spiritual and physical tortures.

Quoting more extensively gauges the depth of disillusion:

    'The business of translation can cut one up, especially one who
    having his own work to produce is forced to abandon it....After
    completing a translation, I at any rate was so exhausted that I
    could not even look at paper, let alone take up any unfinished
    piece...My pain can be understood only by mothers, who driven by
    the need earn money, instead of suckling their own baby offer
    themselves to feed another's. For a mother such as this, it would
    be a thousand times more welcome not to have children so as not to
    suffer.'

Yet a twelve volume Collected Works (1977-1990) and three additional
post-Soviet collections secure Zoryan an honourable position in the
trajectory of Armenian prose, alongside Abovian before and Bakoonts
after, registering, as they both did, an authentic national experience
unfurled with an all-embracing humanism. Of these volumes five or six
at least offer a veritable literary, philosophical, social and
cultural education in life. If not that of which Stepan Zoryan was
capable, his stock of quality prose bequeaths nevertheless rich rites
of passage through historical time and existential human experience.


NOTE 1.
With its almost passing allusion to the multi-ethnic city Yerevan then
still was, `In the Market' features a truth about the Armenian capital
that rarely appears in fiction. In this regard, Soviet (and indeed
much of pre-Soviet) Armenian (and Georgian, Azeri) writers were not,
with only fragments of exception, fully national writers. They are
more accurately authors whose work accurately reflected the life of
only a single community in an ethnically mixed society. They all
shared an economic, political or municipal space, as well as elements
of culture living in cities such as Tbilisi, Baku and Yerevan. Even as
they lived largely discrete lives, a national literature cannot be
truly authentic without focus on these and how they come together.

A mature national literature in particular could not bypass that
dramatic, substantial, defining and tragic historical process that was
the Soviet era ethnic transformation of the Caucasian states. Ethnic
cleansing, forced assimilation and the obstruction of free national
development in the three Caucasian Soviet states represent a darker
side of life that found no significant expression in the Armenian
literature of that era. Like many other darker sides it was air
brushed out by vulgar 'socialist realism' that served the Soviet
apparatus by an essentially one sided depicting a non-existent social
paradise. Of note, even in humanist Zoryan's stories of the
revolution, non-Armenians are absent.

So, where we do have literary reminders of the multi-ethnic realities
of the region (from Abovian, Broshian, Shirvanzade, Aghayan and others,
these should be cherished like gems in our era of re-ignited national
animosities, wars and savageries. They are priceless reminders of the
possibilities, the hope and potentials for harmonious co-existence.


NOTE 2
Thank heavens then for Anahit Sahinian who later, from the 1950s was
to produce her outstanding trilogy of novels encompassing some
essential truths of those decades.



--
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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