Tololyan Literary Prize Recipient writer Aida Zilelian explores the reality of love and loss in the everyday lives of a modern-day Armenian family in her forthcoming novel, “All the Ways We Lied.”
Set in Queens, New York, while a father deteriorates from terminal illness, three sisters contend with one another, their self-destructive pasts, and their indomitable mother as they face the loss of the one person holding their unstable family together.
Kohar, the oldest sister, is happily married, yet grapples with fertility issues and, in turn, her own self-worth. Lucine, the middle child, is trapped in a loveless marriage and haunted by memories of her estranged father. Azad, the beloved youngest child, is burdened by an inescapable cycle of failed relationships.
By turns heartfelt and heart-wrenching, ‘All the Ways We Lied’ introduces a cast of tragically flawed but lovable characters on the brink of unraveling. With humor and compassion, this spellbinding tale explores the fraught and contradictory landscape of sisterhood, introducing four unforgettable women who have nothing in common, and are bound by blood and history.
“Aida Zilelian’s accomplished second novel unfolds with rare grace and tenderness. The raucous imperfections of the Armenian-American family depicted in its pages, the way they spiral out and inevitably back into each other’s lives, their unstinting patience and ultimate kindness towards each other, will remind us of our own. I wish I could spend many more pages with Kohar, Lucine, Azad, and yes, even Takouhil,” said Arif Anwar, author of “The Storm.”
“Reading Aida Zilelian’s clear-eyed and captivating new novel – ‘All the Ways We Lied’ – reminds me, once again, that specificity is universal, and that strong storytelling is anchored to our core humanity. Page after poignant page, I found echoes of my own life in the characters of Kohar, Lucine, Azad, and the entire Garabedian clan. This panoramic family tale cuts to the heart of what it means to forgive each other and, ultimately, ourselves,” said Jared Harél, author of “Let Our Bodies Change the Subject” and winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.
“All the Ways We Lied is an exquisitely-told family story, a jewel box filled with unique prismatic characters, luminescent in its exploration of love and betrayal among three Armenian American sisters and their cataclysmic mother. Aida Zilelian masterfully navigates their complex, interconnected emotions with compassionate precision as the women alternately confront and turn away from the disappointments in their lives, as they reach for each other even as they struggle to find their own way. Ultimately a story of bravery during a time of grief, ‘All the Ways We Lied’ will draw you in to vulnerable moments across continents and cultures, leading you to the most tender, comforting, and insightful definition of the word ‘home,'” said Nancy Agabian, author of “The Fear of Large and Small Nations.”
Aida Zilelian is a first generation American-Armenian writer and educator. She is the author of “The Legacy of Lost Things,” recipient of the 2014 Tololyan Literary Award. Zilelian has been featured on NPR, The Huffington Post, Kirkus Reviews, and Poets & Writers. Her short story collection, “These Hills Were Meant for You,” was shortlisted for the 2018 Katherine Anne Porter Award. She lives in Queens, New York.