BELMONT, Mass. — Translator and scholar Jennifer Manoukian will give a talk on the French Armenian author Zareh Vorpouni (1902-1980) on Thursday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont. The lecture, titled “A Literary Renegade: Zareh Vorpouni and 20th-Century Western Armenian Literature in France,” is presented as part of the NAASR / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues and is jointly sponsored by Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA).
In the 1920s and 1930s, a group of young writers turned Paris into the epicenter of Western Armenian literary life. These writers deliberately broke with their Ottoman Armenian predecessors in theme and form, staging an outright rebellion against them. Their invention of new literary standards and their impulse to represent the new realities of the diaspora challenged the conservatism of the Armenian community and created a fleeting period in which questioning nationalism, clericalism and sexuality became the norm in literature.
Manoukian’s presentation will focus on the life and work of one of the least known, yet most prolific, of these writers: Zareh Vorpouni, focusing on his 1967 novel The Candidate, recently translated into English for the first time.
Manoukian is a translator of Western Armenian literature and will begin her doctoral program at UCLA in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures in the fall. She received her master’s degree from the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University and her bachelor’s degree from the Departments of French and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. Her first translation — The Gardens of Silihdar, the memoir of Ottoman Armenian writer Zabel Yessayan — was published by the AIWA Press in 2014 and her second — The Candidate by Zareh Vorpouni, a co-translation with Ishkhan Jinbashian — was published in 2016 by Syracuse University Press. In 2015, Manoukian received the Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies from NAASR for her work as translator of The Gardens of Silihdar.
Copies of The Candidate will be available for purchase the night of the lecture.