This year’s winner of the Central European Literature Award is a Romanian writer of Armenian origin, Varujan Vosganian, for his novel Cartea soapletor (The Book of Whispers) published by Książkowe Klimaty, translated into Polish by Joanna Kornaś-Warwas, who received the award for the translator. The same book won also the Natalya Gorbanevskaya Readers’ Award.
The Book of Whispers, delighting with its intricate structure, is a novel referring to the genocide of Armenians in 1915.
It is the first novel by Varujan Vosganian, who’s not only a writer and poet, but also a recognized economist and politician. The book was published in 2009, and since then it has been reissued two times. And here’s how the author himself describes it:
When I was writing “The Book of Whispers”, I knew there wasn’t much written about the 20th century in this way. “The Book of Whispers” speaks about Armenians, but also about Romanians, Jews and other nations. It’s a book about the 20th century with its world wars, massacres and mass graves, its ideologies and systems of oppression. But not only. Every place, every time, every nation has its own “Book of Whispers”. It lives, it just needs to be told.
Varujan Vosganian was born on 25 July 1958 in Craiova. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Foscani, and graduated from the School of Economy in Bucharest (1982) and the Department of Mathematics at the University of Bucharest (1991). He holds a Ph.D. in economy, he was one of the founders of the Romanian Economic Association, international advisor for the Centre for European Policy Studies of the European Union in Brussels, member of the Young Politicians Club (London). Between 2006 and 2007 he was the Minister of Commerce and Economy, and until October 2013 he held the office of the Minister of Finance and Economy. Apart from volumes of poetry and prose, he’s also the author of many works on economy. A vice-president of the Writers’ Association in Romania. The Book of Whispers is his first novel, published by Polirom in 2009, and reissued two times since then. In 2012 and 2013 as many as three countries (Romania, Armenia and Israel) proposed Varujan Vosganian’s candidacy for the Nobel Prize in literature. In 2013, he published another book entitled Jocul celor o sută de frunze și alte povestiri (The Game of Hundred Leaves and Other Stories). His latest novel, Copiii războiului (The Children of War), was published by Polirom in 2016.