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?

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

  1. Reply
    Tigran - 05.03.2009

    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!

    1. Reply
      Observer - 05.03.2009

      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! :))))

  2. Reply
    Observer - 06.03.2009

    Blogian has posted an interview with the author of this book. Looks like a Russian translation is coming soon. I bet it’ll be a bestseller in Armenia.
    http://blogian.hayastan.com/2009/03/05/azerbaijan-interview-with-writer-alekper-aliyev/

  3. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 06.03.2009

    And of course, Unzipped: Gay Armenia was the first to cover this book long before IWPR, EurasiaNet etc:
    http://gayarmenia.blogspot.com/search/label/Artush%20and%20Zaur
    Incidentally, from reading Mika’s post it would appear that both are “active,” as Tigran puts it.

  4. Reply
    Onnik Krikorian - 06.03.2009

    BTW, via Mika’s blog, the author of Artush and Zaur has started his own:
    http://alekper-aliyev.livejournal.com/

  5. Reply

    I follow your blog for a long time and must tell you that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

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