Azerbaijani-Armenian Gay Romance Novel Fuels Controversy

030409_frontScandals and discussions have erupted in Azerbaijan over the bestselling new novel – “Artush and Zaur.” This book by Azeri writer Alekper Aliyev (who has been in Yerevan on at least two occasions that I can recall) has written a novel about the romance between two young men — one Armenian, one Azerbaijani. For a highly conservative society like Azerbaijan (and Armenia for that matter), the publication of this book comes as a real shock.

“Taboos will not be easily overcome” declares the sub-title of “Artush and Zaur.” And in this bestseller novel about the romance between two young men — one Armenian, one Azerbaijani — Azerbaijan is experiencing the truth of that line.

The Armenian-Azerbaijani combination alone might raise eyebrows, but in this tradition-bound society, the homosexual orientation of the novel’s two lovers is stirring additional controversy. By contrast, a heterosexual Armenian-Azerbaijani romance published in late 2008 received a largely favorable reaction.

None of Azerbaijan’s large publishing houses would print the novel. Some said the book was disgraceful; others that they were afraid, according to the author, Alekper Aliyev. A publishing house allegedly located in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, finally accepted the job.

Aliyev, the author, says that a desire “to fight against petrified stereotypes” motivated him to write the book.

This story, carried by EurasiaNet, attracted my attention for two reasons:

1. It is genuinely interesting

2. Why on earth did they put that news item into the Civil Society category?

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6 thoughts on “Azerbaijani-Armenian Gay Romance Novel Fuels Controversy

  1. 1. It is really interesting! At least I hope the Armenian guy (gay) is the active one!

    2. Because it can’t be put into gender category, as there is no gender!

    • It’s interesting to observe (and a collegue pointed that out to me just before you commented – Tigran), that whenever Armenians hear of this book, they are always interested – who is the active one! :))))

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