California Novelist Janigian Converses on the Art of Writing on the Armenian-American Experience, with Poet/Editor Barba, Presented by Tekeyan and AGBU


WATERTOWN – The Tekeyan Cultural Association Boston Chapter and the Armenian General Benevolent Union New England District present a literary evening on May 15 with California novelist Aris Janigian and Susan Barba, poet and editor, as discussant.

For his first novel, Bloodvine, Aris Janigian was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “strong and welcome new voice,” and in four subsequent novels he has plumbed the American experience, from the struggle of 1920s Armenian immigrants to the fields of California to the neuroses and decadence of contemporary culture. His 2012 novel This Angelic Land, set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots—and which featured a Lebanese Armenian protagonist—was called “today’s necessary book” by critic D. J. Waldie.  Janigian’s Waiting for Lipchitz at Chateau Marmont, about a screenwriter who goes from riches to rags, spent seventeen weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list.

Aris Janigian

Janigian holds a PhD in psychology from Claremont Graduate University and was formerly Senior Professor of Humanities at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a contributing writer to West, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine. He was a finalist for Stanford University’s William Saroyan Fiction Prize and the recipient of the Anahid Literary Award from Columbia University. In addition to his five novels, Janigian is co-author, with April Greiman, of Something from Nothing. He lives in Fresno, California, the city of his birth.

Susan Barba is the author of Fair Sun, which was awarded the Anahit Literary Prize and the Minas and Kohar Tölöyan Prize. Her poems have appeared in PoetryThe Yale ReviewThe New York Review of Books, Raritan, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She has a doctorate in comparative literature from Harvard University, specializing in Armenian, Russian, and English poetry, and she works as a senior editor for New York Review Books. Her new book geode is forthcoming in 2020.

The discussion with Janigian promises to touch upon the Armenian Diaspora; Armenian-American identity; the form(s) of the novel; the relationship between memory, art, and trauma; nostalgia and post-memory. “What I am struck by as I read Janigian’s work,” Barba says, “is how he gives shape and vitality to these terms, probing and troubling them, and thereby renewing them.”

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the AGBU Building at 247 Mount Auburn Street in Watertown. Admission is free, with a reception to follow the formal portion of the evening. Books will be on sale. For more information, email or call 617 924-4455.

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