Content by Hasmik Koshkaryan
Translation by ESIC LLC

Photo from the Internet
2020-06-12 09:50
“THE BOOK ALWAYS STRIVES TO BECOME A NOVEL…”, HOVHANNES HOVAKIMYAN
The publishing house “Antares”, with support of the Ministry of ESCS, is to publish the “(Non)novel” story collection by a young author Hovhannes Hovakimyan. We sat down with Hovhannes, a graduate of the Faculty of Armenian language and literature, YSU, and talked about today’s readers, as well as his first book.

I will never share a line I am still working on

I have started writing since I was a pupil at school, the teachers were assigning us to write some compositions and I was writing short stories. Of course, what I do now is rather different from what I did during the school years. Writing is in my essence, as it is not something I decide I should do or not. If you force me to write something, I will not be able to. And a month later, I might write ten pages in ten minutes without even thinking about it. I guess this is why I can tolerate myself. I am a level-headed and patient person. I never had an aim to get published, at least not consciously. Everything happened accidentally: I got introduced to Gurgen Khanjyan, we talked, and then, as part of the second phase of getting to know me, he read a story of mine. He decided to publish it in the "Gretert" magazine. That made the start.

I am the first critic of my own pieces. Finalizing a story might take up to a few months, even if it is 2-3 pages overall. Until I am content with the text, I will not let myself give in the appeal of publishing. Of course there will be some readers at this stage, my friends, but only after finishing. While I am working on it, I will never let anybody read a line.

Literature simply cannot sustain without criticism

I gained a new level of accountability towards my writing after publishing my third story, "Roland's Dream". If I must evaluate it myself, it was a total failure. It was published in "Gretert", a debate was organized, and it received critical criticism. I guess after this I perceived the seriousness of having a vocation in literature. Every word I wrote began to receive accountability. I am convinced that literature simply cannot sustain without criticism, as the criticism is the necessary filter to evaluate and put it in its own place. Criticism should restrict every writer to publish everything, or to write anything and anyhow anyone pleases. Criticism is there to regulate all these. And I look for criticism realizing all this.

We have been bad readers during the first years of our Independence

In order to understand the bond between the reader and the book, we have to make a comparison. If we compare the situation with last year, you can see some growth. But we were bad readers during the first 10 to 15 years after the country gained Independence. It is understandable- those were years of crisis, the war, and lots and lots of working. Now it is gradually improving, we are moving forward steadily. There are many active readers, with good taste, who try to change something around themselves, and I believe they succeed.

There is no chance literature can fade away

The book, meaning the phenomenon we understand with the word "book", will never fade away or lose its value. Literature will always be with mankind, whether online or in an audio version, in a real and a material way. Literature has no chance of fading away.

Ignorance will lead nowhere

We have rather good contemporary literature in various forms, from different mindsets, by authors having diverse mentality, ideas and unique styles. I consider myself a good reader of contemporary literature, at least. I read regardless of liking it or not. I learn from others' mistakes as well as from their success. Anyway, ignorance leads nowhere.

The book always strives to become a novel, but it never does

The book was created on its own. There was a period when each of my writings had some relation to the previous, and continued getting interlinked. And one day I saw there was a book. It was all lingering. The title was chosen first of all based on the notion that the book always strives to become a novel but never does. Sometimes it strives to become a series of stories, but does not do that either. So, it floats in between genres. Furthermore, you will find a paragraph in the book which will allow you to understand it better.

The book is not accountable towards the reader

I know I write the truth. Maybe it is not my story, maybe it is mine, maybe it belongs to some stranger, still, I write about something that is happening or has already happened. I do not fake it, I do not lie, especially to myself. Probably, I write what I live. I have no idea what it will give to the reader. I think it will give something to everyone or it won't. The book is not accountable towards the reader, it's definitely true for the other way around. I would like them to read and understand me, themselves, and everyone, because all of us are there.