Karapents Compilation Released; Focuses on Three Pillars of Armenian Identity

ARLINGTON, Mass.–The Armenian Cultural Foundation announced this week the release of Mtorumner [Ruminations] by Hakob Karapents. A collection of 61 articles, mostly written during the last years of his life, it focuses on three pillars shaping the Armenian identity: Armenia, Artsakh, and Diaspora, and the challenges Armenia’s as a people are facing in the 21st century.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, comprised of thirty two articles, covers issues concerning Armenia as the cradle of the Armenian people to the importance of the Armenian Republic (1918-1920), Soviet Armenia, and the Third Republic which emerged after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Written in most part during the last five years of his life (1989-1994), Karapents emphasized on the present realities and challenges the young republic is facings. In some articles, Karapents focuses on the evolution and development of the state structures, placing the highest importance on the development of democratic institutions in Armenia and removal all barriers between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.

The seventeen articles and columns on Artsakh were written when military operations were being waged in and around the enclave. Some highlight the significance of the Karabakh conflict for Armenia, its people, and the security and stability of the Republic of Armenia, while others draw parallels between Karabagh and similar conflicts in the Balkans and Georgia, and the support Karabagh deserves from the world arenas and institutions such as the United Nations. The third part of the book is dedicated to thirteen of Karapents’ articles on the Armenian Diaspora with a focus on life in America. As a writer who spent fifty years of his life in the United States, Karapents understood the psychological and sociological factors which shaped the identity of American Armenia’s as well as the challenges they faced on a daily basis.

This is the second volume of the works by Karapents published by the ACF, which also houses the Karapents’ library and collection of works. In 2008 the Foundation released The Widening Circle and Other Early Short Stories, a collection of six short stories, from the early works of the author. These are sketches of a young Iranian Armenian who, immigrating to America in the late forties, sees his youth, gradually becoming a thing of the past, while embracing life in the new world. (In addition to the lead story, the Widening Circle, this volume includes, A Persian story, In the Shadow of Omar Khayyam, Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Garden of Allah, and Darvish).

The American-Armenian writer and literary critic, Peter Najarian writes, “It is a young man’s book and I am delighted in its youthful freshness and vitality. Its personal history that takes place so long ago also gives it a sweet nostalgic quality. . . it offers an insider’s view of the tumult in Iranian society as well as a glimpse into an exotic world so different from our own.” Eli Flamm, Editor Emeritus of the Potomac Review, finds Karapents sharing the “Whitman’sque vision of life lived to the fullest,” a life which is in search of “self-understanding and for a pure spiritual maturity.”

Born in 1925 in Tabriz, Iran, Karapents was one of the most prolific of modern Armenian writers. He entered the American-Armenian literary and journalistic scene in 1947. Over the next forty years until his death in 1994, Karapents contributed extensively to major Armenian and American newspapers, magazines, and periodicals. His distinctive prose style has made him widely known in both the Diaspora and Armenia. His prize winning short stories and novels are contained in the following volumes: Antsanot’ Hoginer [Strange Souls], Kart’ageni Duster? [Daughter of Carthage], Nor Ashkharhi Hin Sermnats’anner? [The Old Sowers of the New World], Mijnarar [Intermission], Adami Girk? [Adam’s Book], Amerikean Shurjpar [American Rondo], Mi Mard u Mi Erkir [A Man and a Country], and Erku Ashkharh: Grakan P’ordzagrut’iwnner [Two Worlds: Literary Essays]. Return & Tiger, Hakob Karapents’ first English language volume, was released in 1994. In addition to the above titles, Karapents wrote over seven hundred articles, book reviews, commentaries and poetry in Armenian and English. A comprehensive bibliography of the Karapents’ works, Karapents Matenagitut’iwn [Karapents Bibliography] prepared by Ara Ghazarians, was published by Blue Crane Books in 1999.

Both volumes, compiled and edited with an introduction by Ara Ghazarians, the ACF curator, were sponsored by late Sarkis Acopian of Easton, Pennsylvania, a long time Hakob Karapents enthusiast and supporter, and are available for sale at the Armenian Cultural Foundation office and local and regional Armenian bookstores. All proceeds from the sale of both titles will be donated to the Hamazgayin-Armenia Hakob Karapents Scholarship Fund.

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