Armenia-Azerbaijan: Artush and Zaur
With the traditional media in the South Caucasus rarely reporting on sexual or religious minority rights maturely, blogs have stepped in to fill the gap and Unzipped: Gay Armenia continues to post LGBT news from the region. But perhaps the most unexpected news comes in the form of an extended post on the publication in Armenia’s estranged neighbor of a book detailing a love story between two homosexuals from each country.
Alekper Aliyev, editor-in-chief of kultura.az, has published, as he put it, his “most scandalous” novel “Artush and Zaur” in Baku. It’s a gay love story between an Azeri and Armenian, a sort of partial deconstruction of Ali and Nino (a heterosexual love story of Azeri Ali and Georgian Nino) having instead Azeri and Armenian male lovers against the backdrop of the emerging Karabakh conflict.
The war separates them. Artush moved to Armenia, Zaur remained in Baku. Already adults they meet again - in Tbilisi. They indulge in memories, fall in love and even get married with the help of a Dutch pastor, a confidant of the wife of Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili …
In his interview, the author argues that Azeris and Armenians share similar kitchen, music and mentality. “Armenians are closer to us than, say, Georgians” due to the influence of the Persian culture.
Alekperov says that one of the reasons of writing this novel was to expose the absurdity of all wars in the South Caucasus a la Kusturica. He believes he has the full right to do so as he lost his older brother during the Karabakh war in 1994.
Predictably, this book caused a stir and shock in Azeri forums and blogs, with plenty of hateful and homophobic comments. Some accused the author in treason and betrayal of national interests. Others claimed (with irony) that Azerbaijan now has its very own Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk.
“Who f**ked who?” – this is one of the first and apparently principal questions being discussed in forums and blogs (both Azeri and Armenian), each side wishing for ‘his guy’ to f**k ‘the enemy’. […]
If you discount the nationalities and sexuality of the main characters, the plot may seem pretty routine and unremarkable. However, against the backdrop of nationalism and intolerance in the region, the very fact of the novel that tells about the love story between an Armenian and Azeri, a gay love story between an Armenian and Azeri, makes it a double taboo breaking.
The full post where comments can be left is available on Unzipped: Gay Armenia.
- 02.10.09 / 2pm by Onnik
- Armenia, Arts & Culture, Azerbaijan, Blogs, Books, Human Rights, Nagorno Karabakh, News Briefs, Opinion, Society