LONDON (The Guardian) — The Guardian newspaper has listed Russia-based Armenian writer Narine Abgaryan among Europe’s most exciting authors. Below is her story.
A Russian writer of Armenian origin, Narine Abgaryan is already renowned as a children’s author and blogger in Russia. Her novel Three Apples Fell from the Sky has sold more than 160,000 copies since it was first published in 2015 and won Russia’s most prestigious literary award, the Yasnaya Polyana prize (founded by the Tolstoy estate). A magical realist story of friendship and feuds, published in English this month by Oneworld, the book is set in the remote Armenian mountain village of Maran, where the villagers pick mulberries and make baklava. An ancient telegraph wire and a perilous mountain path that even goats struggle to follow is their only connection to the outside world. Abgaryan cites One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, set in the isolated fictional village of Macondo, as her favourite book. But she was haunted by the ending of Márquez’s multi-generational saga of the Buendía family, as all traces of Macondo’s existence are wiped away. In Three Apples Fell from the Sky (translated by Lisa C Hayden), she resolved to write a fable that did exactly the opposite. “I wanted to write a story that ends on a note of hope,” she says. “Humanity is in dire need of hope, of kind stories.”
Her work has already been translated into 12 languages, and with English being the 13th, she now calls this her lucky number. “When you’re published in English there’s a greater chance that your work will resonate more widely,” she says. “When your work is translated, you start to work with greater joy and hope. You start to believe in yourself more.” Jade Cuttle
• Narine Abgaryan’s Three Apples Fell from the Sky, translated by Lisa C Hayden, is published by Oneworld and is out now.