31 December 2013
Unforgettable meeting with Varujan Voskanyan, author of the bestselling “Book of Whispers”, in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Russe (Bulgaria).
The “Book of Whispers” is a personal trip through 20th Century by one of Romania’s most famous Armenians: Varujan Vosganian, mathematician, poet, writer and politicians. The book is a best-sellers in Romania and is now being published in translation in many countries. The author has toured Bulgarian cities with AGBU on the occasion of its publication in the Bulgarian translation.
Upon arriving in Plovdiv, Mr. Varujan Voskanyan, the author of the novel “Book of Whispers”, mentioned that for 20 years of active political life he has travelled a lot and has visited many Armenian communities around the world, but he had never previously been to Bulgaria, which now he considers an omission.
On 6th of December, the first city that Mr. Voskanyan visited was the capital – Sofia. The AGBU Young Professionals ofSofia and the Coordination Council of the Armenian Organizations in the capital, nearly a month collaborated with AGBU Plovdiv- the main initiator and organizer of Mr. Voskanyan’s visit to Bulgaria.
The meeting, held in the premises of the Bulgarian Science Academy, was hosted by Mr. Hristo Angelichin, councilor at the Sofia Municipality. During the presentation,were read excerpts of the text and the author himself explained about the characters and the impact the novel has had on other peoples. He shared how common destiny we have and how the novel is becoming more and more popular for the subsided and familiar pain hidden between the lines of the novel, for the reconciliation with the past and the absence of war-cries and calls for aggression and revenge.
The publisher, Mr. Gindyanov who had also arrived from Russe, expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration with the author and expressed his gratitude to Varujan Voskanyan, for sharing with him the opportunity to publish his novel, “Book of Whispers,”for which he believes, the author should be distincted with a Nobel Prize.
On the following day the guests traveled to Plovdiv, where after visiting the church “Surp Kevork”, Mr. Varujan Voskanyan and the Ambassador of Armenia in Romania Mr. Gamlet Gasparyan were warmly greeted with flowers by the children from the AGBU Armenian Saturday School in Plovdiv.
The first part of the event was introductory to the Armenian community. Mr. Voskanyan shared his thoughts and concerns, “We are the oldest Armenian communities in Europe. For half a century we have been in the same Archdiocese and I am convinced that it is time we start to cooperate. I would love one day to say – we in Romania and Bulgaria are 50 thousand Armenians. Our problems are very similar: although in both countries we are highly reputed our governments refuse to recognize the Armenian Genocide and unfortunately both in Bulgaria and Romania it is hard to resist to the assimilation process. So in this line of thoughts, I suggest we find an institutionalized form of cooperation, such as youth movements, publishing, church life, meetings between the leaders, so as to try to find a solution to our most urgent problems.“
Then Mr. Voskanyan proceeded with examination of his novel, its popularity and perception in different communities around the world. Part in the discussion took as well Mr. Marin Kadiev, president of the “Alliance of the Independent Writers” in Bulgaria and eminent literary critic and Mr. Todor Hristev, philosopher and historian, a prominent Bulgarian politician. The discussion continued with questions and opinions by the poet Hovhannes Mikaelian, Mr. Edward Arsenyan, Dr. Agop Srents. Books were available for purchase and signing by the author.
During the presentation, the ExtraordinaryAmbassador and Plenipotentiary of Republic of Armenia,H.E. Mr. Arsen Shoyan said he was thrilled by the meeting with Mr. Voskanyanand expressed his sincere wish for the day when “Book of Whispers” will shine with the brightness of a Nobel star, and then the journalists and the media will appreciate the fateful theme woven into the novel, by the skillful storyteller.
In closing of the event, Mr. Rupen Chavushyan, Chairman of AGBU Plovdiv, narrated how during the visit of AGBU Europe in Bucharest in 2011, he saw the novel “Book of Whispers” in Romanian, and after a short presentation by the author – Mr. Voskanyan, he was convinced that the novel must be translated to Bulgarian and published. And so it was. Prof. Khachik Khachikyan from Sofia, the translator of Hrant Dinks book ” Two close nations, two distant neighbors,” proposed Mrs. Vanina Bozhikova as a translator of the novel from Romanian to Bulgarian.
“Today the novel is a fact, the author is among us and this meeting is the right occasion for him to be excelled in dignity,” Mr. Rupen Chavushyan said and handed to Mr. Varujan Voskanyan plaque for honorary membership to AGBU Plovdiv.
On December 8th, early in the morning, the guest,with Mr. Rupen Chavushyancontinued their trip to Varna. After a church service the meeting began with the speach of Mr. Stanislav Penev, Varna well known poet and translator, member of the Union of the Bulgarian Writers, president of the association “Literary Society” and editor of the newspaper“Literature and Society” in which AGBU Plovdiv takes active part. Mr. Stanislav Penev made a professional analysis of the novel and gave boost to its discussion. Also spoke on the book Masis Hadjolyan, professor of history. Father Bartohimeos, pastor of the Armenians in Varna thanked the Armenian community for the presentation of the novel and personal presence of the author.
According to locals, this cultural event has been one of the most significant public event for 2013, they expressed their deep gratitude to the main contributor to this occasion, Mr. Rupen Chavushyan .
Later in the evening, “Book of Whispers”was presented in Russe, in a packed hall of the Regional History Museum. Armenians and intellectuals of the city impatiently expected the visit of Mr. Voskanyan, which became a fact thanks to the contribution of AGBU Ruse Chairman Dr. Boghos Garzharyan, who first presented the novel “Book of Whispers” to the audience. Inspired by the characters in the novel and the author’s ability to convey so fascinatingly his childhood memories, Dr. Garzharyan stressed on the major impact of the novel and its relevance to the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“The family tragedy narrated in the novel is comparable to the destiny of many other Armenian families around the world,” said Dr. Garzharyan. “The strong childhood memory of the author transmits the feelings of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide in several directions, without omitting the consequences that have defined their way of thinking and drawn their lives line. The novel is adocument and a weapon for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” ended Dr. Garzharyan.Then he gave the floor to the famous Ruse poet Mr. Yordan Palejev and the editor of the novel “Book of Whispers,” Laura Sarkisyan, the director of the Regional History Museum - Dr. Nenov and the publisher Mr. Gindyanov.
During the extensive cocktail held after the presentation, the publisher “Avangard print” – Ruse, emphasized on the importance of the event and the presence of Mr. Voskanyan in Bulgaria, however he showed his deep dissatisfaction of the fact that the event did not get enough popularity among the Bulgarian media and was not given the necessary response.
We parted with Mr. Voskanyan with many unasked questions. He spread among us the light of a new worldview, shared his political and social experience and led many of us to ponder higher and fundamental objectives, for the unification of our scattered nation.
Translation: Silvia Gelgelyan