Books

The Dark Valley

The Dark Valley

8transl. by Nairi Hakhverdi, with an introduction by Victoria Rowe
London: Taderon Press, 2009,
148 pp,
ISBN 978-1-903656-90-7, paperback,
UK£10.00 / US$18.00

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Aksel Bakunts (b. Alexander Stepan Tevosyan, 1899-1937), one of the rising stars of Soviet Armenian literature, was known as a masterful short story writer. He was born in 1899 in Goris (Armenia) and educated at the Gevorkian Seminary in Echmiadzin. Always outspoken, his first publication, a satirical account of the mayor of Goris, earned him a stint in jail in 1915. He subsequently served as an Armenian volunteer in the battles of Erzurum, Kars and Sardarabad. Between 1918 and 1919 he was a teacher, proof-reader and reporter in Yerevan. In 1920 he was accepted to the Kharkov Institute in the Ukraine to study agriculture. After graduation in 1923, he worked as an agronomist in Zangezur, a region of Armenia that features prominently in his short stories. From 1926 he settled in Yerevan where he quickly established his reputation as a gifted writer with his first collection of short stories entitled Mtnadzor [The Dark Valley]. His oeuvre includes short story collections, various individual pieces in the press, fragments of novels sadly destroyed following his arrest in 1936, and three screenplays for films produced by Hyefilm in the 1930s. A colleague and friend of Yeghishe Charents (1897-1937), Bakunts was a member of the former’s Armenian Association of Proletariat Writers. Bakunts fell victim to the Stalinist terror and was accused of various crimes including alienation from socialist society. He was arrested in 1936 and is believed to have been shot after a twenty-five minute trial in 1937.

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