Hamazkayin Announces Winner of Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature for 2019

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WATERTOWN — The Eastern Regional Executive of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society announced winners of the Minas and Kohar Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature as Susan Arpajian Jolley and Allan Arpajian, co-authors of Out of My Great Sorrows: The Armenian Genocide and Artist Mary Zakarian.

Out of My Great Sorrows is the story of Philadelphia artist Mary Zakarian, whose life and work were shaped by the experiences of her mother, a survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Written by Mary Zakarian’s niece and nephew, the narrative examines the complexities of the artist’s life as they relate to many issues, including ethnicity, gender, immigration, and assimilation. Above all this is a story of trauma — its effects on the survivor, its transmission through the generations, and its role in the artistic experience. Zakarian painted obsessively throughout her life. As she gained recognition for her artwork, she became increasingly haunted by her mother’s untold story and was driven to express the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide in her art. Zakarian’s attempt to deal openly with the issues of trauma and guilt caused conflicts in her relationship with her mother. These emotions became a driving force behind her art as well as the basis for her personal difficulties. By examining Mary Zakarian’s life and art, the authors bring new insights to the study of the Armenian experience. This moving story will inspire all those who have struggled to express themselves in the face of injustice and oppression. This critically acclaimed book is available on Amazon.

Named after one of the major Armenian literary critics of the second half of the 20th century and his wife, a devoted teacher of that literature for decades, the annually awarded Minas and Kohar Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature recognizes the work produced by talented writers working in North America. The prize is intended to encourage new work in all the major genres of literary production, as they are currently understood in North America. Works in Armenian, English, French, and Spanish are considered if the authors are of Armenian ancestry, or the work has an Armenian theme or revolves around an Armenian topic.

This prize was initiated by the Eastern Regional Executive committee of Hamazkayin a number of years ago to encourage and recognize those who wish to write on Armenian topics and/or in Armenian language. The financial award of $1,500 is made possible through Edward and Vergine Misserlian of San Francisco.

Members of the jury are: Dr. Sima Aprahamian Hovhannessian, (Montreal), Anoush Agnerian (Montreal), Dr. Vartan Matiossian (New York/New Jersey), Karen [Káren] Jallatyan (California).

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