translated from Armenian by Donald Abcarian
London: Taderon Press, 2006,
64 pp,
ISBN 1-903656-62-1, paperback,
UK£6 / $10.00

As two ruthless empires clashed under the false banner of religion, the unsuspecting Armenian and Assyrian peasants of Albak were caught in a holocaust of burning, looting and massacre. Engulfed in the inescapable impact of these events, Raffi set aside everything else to write his first historical novel, Jalaleddin. With sparing but vivid strokes he fashioned a stark, compact drama of epic proportions, forging a story that at once crystallyzed the emotions of the Armenian public, showed them the path to freedom, and set their fate squarely before them. But with its call to self-defense and its frontal assault on the clerical establishments of two major religions, Jalaleddin was not appreciated by everyone. Immediately upon publication it set off a firestorm of controversy and was bitterly attacked for its ideas in the conservative Armenian press.

About the Author
Raffi (né Hakob Melik-Hakobian) was born in 1835 in Bayajuk, near Salmas, in northwestern Persia. He died in Tiflis in 1888. He was a prolific and popular writer who contributed to Krikor Ardzrouni‚Äôs Tiflis-based liberal periodical, Mshak (Cultivator). Among his other principal works of fiction are Jalaleddin, Gharib Mshetsi (The exile from Moush), Khachagoghi Hishatakarane (The diary of a cross-stealer), Kaitzer (Sparks), Davit Bek, and Samuel.

About the translator
Donald Abcarian was born and raised in Fresno, California, where his family was part of the extensive Armenian-American community that has settled there since the turn of the century. His earliest influences, including the Armenian language, derived from that milieu. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in philosophy, and has pursued a lifelong interest in languages and world literature.

Having studied several European languages over the years, Abcarian in 1996 took up the challenge of learning to decipher the written language of his ancestors. This translation is a result of that process.

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