Frayed Edge Press announced the publication of “The Flying African” by Areg Azatyan, translated from Armenian by Nazareth Seferian.
The book follows the journey of an unnamed traveler, a young Armenian writer who spends fifty-four adventurous days in Africa, one day in each of the continent’s countries. Fifty-four chapters provide vignettes of the visits to each country, in which the traveler experiences the beauty of the land and the complexity of the people, as well the continent’s darker side: the on-going effects of colonization, war, poverty, and disease. While it is impossible to understand the whole of Africa or even one country in a short visit, each chapter provides a snapshot of something significant about the country visited, grounded in its own history, culture, and customs.
The traveler’s progress is episodic and surreal, and at times he becomes dissociated and unsure of even where he is or what he is observing. He experiences some of the typical aspects of travel—seeing ancient mosques and other interesting architecture, visiting markets and trying new foods, and meeting both natives and other travelers, but the real journey is a psychological and emotional one. The geographic adventure of travel takes a back seat to the psychic adventure of unmooring oneself from the familiarity of home and reaching out to the unknown. Even as the narrator struggles to make sense of the sometimes magical and fantastic stories told to him, as well as his own disorienting experiences, he is still greatly affected by witnessing the human condition and has flashes of insight illuminating the human psyche’s capacity for growth, pain, and resilience.
Ultimately, the traveler, and the reader along with him, takes a complex journey of letting go of expectations and opening up to the profound effects of encountering what is both familiar and foreign.
Olivia Hetreed, screenwriter for the major motion picture “Girl with a Pearl Earring” said, “I really enjoyed the book opening and was intrigued and amused by the different chapters. I loved…the quick way I was drawn into encounters with strangers and little mysteries.” Canadian filmmaker and scriptwriter Atom Egoyan has also praised the author, saying “Azatyan has a distinct talent with a playful sensibility full of probing questions…I look forward to following his work.”
Author Areg Azatyan is an Armenian writer and filmmaker based in the USA. He is the author of six fiction books published by leading publishing houses in Armenia: “Life Beyond the Sun,” “The Trial of the Human,” “Grasping at the Ladybug’s Leg,” “The Flying African,” “The Romanticists,” and “During the Lull.” He has also published short fiction in Armenian and international magazines and newspapers. He was the recipient of one of the highest governmental literary awards in Armenia, the Presidential Youth Prize for Literature (2004), as well as the Best Writer of the Year (2010) Mesrop Mashtots trophy, and several other international and national literary awards. As a filmmaker, his work has been recognized with several awards and prizes, and he has participated in more than forty international film festivals, including Berlinale, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, and Gothenburg.
Translator Nazareth Seferian was born in Canada, grew up in India and moved to his homeland of Armenia in 1998, where he has been living ever since. His university education was not specific to translation studies, but his love for languages led him to this work in 2001. He began literary translations in 2011 and his published works include the English version of “Yenok’s Eye” by Gurgen Khanjyan, “The Clouds of Mount Maruta” by Mushegh Galshoyan, “Ravens Before Noah” by Susanna Harutyunyan, “Jesus’ Cat” by Grig, “The Door Was Open” by Karine Khodikyan, and “Robinson” by Aram Pachyan. He has also translated several short stories by other Armenian authors including Artavazd Yeghiazaryan, Levon Shahnur, Armen of Armenia (Ohanyan), Areg Azatyan, Avetik Mejlumyan, and Anna Davtyan. Nazareth produces several pages of translation each day, driven by his desire to promote greater availability and recognition of Armenian culture for English speakers worldwide
“The Flying African” officially launched on January 30 and may be purchased directly through our distribution partner. The book is also available through major online booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and most library book jobbers, including Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
Frayed Edge Press is a small independent press located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which specializes in publishing marginalized voices, overlooked literature in translation, and works that wrestle with important questions impacting contemporary society. For more information about the press, visit the website.