01 30, 2021

I Will Not Write, Unless They Imprison Me

Narek Malian says that creating requires creative isolation, which is only possible in prison at the moment.

“One of my books, "Point Zero", has greatly succeeded abroad: a week after being printed and published in Armenia it attracted foreign publishers.

In particular, the Arabic publishing house "Al Arabi" has bought the copyright of the Arabic translation, then the British publishing house "Glagoslav" has acquired the copyright to "Point Zero" in English. Around 2-3 months ago, the Polish publishing house ("Grupa Wydawnicza Sonia Draga") acquired the copyright to publish the book in Polish.
There are negotiations going on with a well-known foreign publishing house. Steps are being taken to enter the Iranian market as well, and negotiations are underway with publishers to enter the Russian market, too. By the way, British independent critic Michael Orthofer, to my surprise, wrote a
review of my novel "Point Zero" naming it a work with an exceptional structure,” said Narek Malian in the talk with Aravot. To our question, what is the peculiarity of his book that attracts foreigners, the author answered as follows.

“For an Armenian writer it is very difficult to avoid certain temptation, that is to write for a specific reader the way he/she would understand. Only great authors, such as Hrant Matevosyan, have the right to write in Armenian spirit, but to be understood by the world. Novice writers, when taking their first steps, often find themselves “trapped”, writing in such a style and texts that are comprehensible only to the Armenian reader, while the writer, conventionally speaking, should write “in human language” in order to be understood by both Chinese and British readers, because people's cultures, lifestyles, ideas are different, however, certainly, there are universal integrating points, topics that can raise a smile and excitement for Polish, Chinese and British readers, or your text will speak equally with the hearts of both Armenian and non-Armenian readers.”

To our observation that some of the modern Armenian writers often resort to profanity in their works, why he does not give in to that temptation, Narek Malian answers.

“One of the common delusions is that “sincere” scenes or profanity will enlarge the number of readers. For instance, in Soviet times, books with such texts were banned, people would buy and read secretly, and writing in this style was considered heroism. If writing like this is not done to present a certain situation, it is not a necessary element in telling a story, it is just a way to quickly gain recognition and take the path of pseudo-heroism. But this is a delusion. Stanford University has conducted a study of the top-selling books, analyzing the books from that “view”: profanity, sex scenes, etc.
In light of this research, we can say that mostly the top-selling books are devoid of them. For example, there is an opinion that James's "50 Shades of Gray" owes its success to the sex scenes described in the novel, but literary studies point to small percentage of sex scenes even in that book. If a writer starts swearing, he is more inclined to sexual descriptions, in my opinion, it is another industry that has nothing to do with serious literature. I have a passage in my first book, "PR of Sodom". It's my only 18+ book, where, as an author, I'm just in a situation not being able to find delicate descriptions and having no other choice than using swear words in the book. I used them not to increase the popularity and sales of the book, but because I could not choose the necessary "substitutes" as an author. When it comes to Russian, slangish and colloquial Russian is a bit different, you can write a piece and not swear in Russian, while in Armenian there is literary Armenian and slangish Armenian, and colloquial Armenian is not developed enough to make it possible to write a piece without swearing.” It should be noted that Narek Malian's website, which is in English, is also ready. The author says that its purpose is to have a dialogue with publishers who would like to work with him. "I want to show that my aims in the literary world are serious. I have come to that field for a long time and I am not going to carry out meteorological activities. I also claim some literary prize, which I will talk about later. We also asked Narek Malian what he was working on at the moment.
“At the moment I have three books published, "PR of Sodom", published in Armenian, Russian, the second - "Point Zero", published in Armenian, Arabic, English and soon in Polish and Russian, as well, my third book is "Queen of Hearts". "Point Zero" and "Queen of Hearts" were the fastest to be sold. The first one was in the list of the best-selling books in Armenia, I link the fast sale of "Queen of Hearts" more with the anticipation and expectations of the reader of "Point Zero". As for creating, I would like to mention that the last 2.5 years have been unbearably difficult for any creative person in Armenia. It is simply impossible to create, unless you are in prison, because creating implies creative isolation, an environment cut off from external impulses, concentration, the process of creating gives me great pleasure. For example, "Point Zero" took me more than a year, even though I was a state employee then, I was writing "Point Zero", I could find time to finish the book, and now today's news “squeezes” and destroys any creative person, and it results in energetic waste. It is impossible to write, it would be like sitting in a corner of the house writing a book while the house is on fire. In a word, I will not write, unless imprisoned. There are some initial ideas, but putting them on paper requires creative isolation. The only thing is that the authorities finally would imprison me so that I can finish at least one book. If the imprisonment lasts longer, maybe I will finish two or three books, especially since I have a plan for three new books,” said Narek Malian.

Gohar Hakobyan