What do Armenians think of Romanians

Varujan Vosganian: An Armenian in Romania

With the novel “Book of Whispers”, Varujan Vosganian, who comes from Asia Minor, takes us into a fantastic old world.

The grandfathers shaped the creator of this seemingly autobiographical novel. Garabet Vosganian was also a gifted narrator, whom his grandson Varujan, born in 1958, listened to from childhood. In the Romanian provincial town of Focşani, his grandfather shared stories from his family and about his people. At that time he also encouraged the child: "Maybe he will be the narrator one day."

Not just any stories, but the cover letter against oblivion and destruction. Many of these events could only be spoken in a whisper, because the suffering of the Armenians a hundred years ago was terrible. Turkey committed genocide against them in 1915. "Aghet" is what those affected call the catastrophe with up to 1.5 million deaths. To this day, this crime against humanity has not been overcome, a Turkish taboo.

The Vosganians ended up in Romania, the grandson made it to finance and economics minister, aroused controversy about his liberal politics. The novel, however, is not polemical, but wise, a chronicle of the century that goes back a long way to its roots and makes dozens of fates tangible. This world is shaped by the love of writing. This is also evident in the excellent translation by Ernest Wichner. norb
At the “Buch Wien” on November 21, the author will present his novel in conversation with the translator: at 7 pm in the Urania, 1010 Vienna.


Varujan Vosganian: "Book of Whispers", translated by v. Ernst Wichner, Zsolnay, 511 pages, 26.80 euros.

("Die Presse", print edition, November 17, 2013)