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Associate Professor Shushan Avagyan’s Novel Wins Award

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YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) proudly announces the literary achievement of Associate Professor Shushan Avagyan. Her novel, A Book, Untitled, has been recognized by English PEN’s flagship grant program, PEN Translates, among thirteen titles from twelve countries and nine languages. Avagyan’s novel was recently translated into English by Deanna Cachoian-Schanz. Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN, said: “These thirteen books are significant works of literature – individually, in their quality; and collectively, in how they help shift the United Kingdom (UK) literary landscape.” This is the first time English PEN awards a book translated from Eastern Armenian.

In her experimental work, Avagyan narrates an imagined encounter in Yerevan in 1926 between two early twentieth-century writers, Shushanik Kurghinian and Zabel Yesayan, whose legacies have been largely obscured and forgotten in the Armenian literary canon.

Earlier in August, Avagyan was invited to present her novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, in conversation with Sophie Cunningham, one of Australia’s most influential literary figures and the author of This Devastating Fever. Together, they explored the nuances of interpreting history, probed the boundaries of past and present, and examined the implications of slippage through these supposedly rigid lines. The discussion was moderated by Catherine Wilson Garry, a Scottish spoken word poet and writer based in Edinburgh.

The U.S. edition of A Book, Untitled was released in April 2023 by Awst Press, and the UK edition is scheduled for October through Tilted Axis Press.

“I wasn’t quite expecting to see just how far Girq-anvernagir (originally published in 2006) might journey, but that’s what translation does — it creates unexpected trajectories. And so, recently, Girq was also acquired by the Italian press Utopia and will soon be available in Italian as well,” says Avagyan.

A Book, Untitled has been reviewed by Alistair Ian Blyth in Big Other, Lisa Gulesserian in The Armenian Weekly, and Arpi Sarafian in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. It will be featured in the British literary magazine Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing in March 2024.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.