BY LANIS ANTON SAHAZIZIAN
In France, everyone instinctively connects Charles Aznavour to Armenia and Armenian causes. In Romania, Varujan Voskanian is similarly associated with Armenia and Romania’s Armenian community.
Who is Varujan Voskanian? Today, Varujan Voskanian is the President of the Armenian Community in Romania and has had a long history of serving his countrymen – both in politics and the arts. On the political front, Varujan Voskanian is a prominent member of the Liberal Party of Romania (one of the largest political parties in the country). In fact from 2006 to 2008, Varujan Voskanian had the honor of serving as Romania’s Minister of Finance and the Economy.
Since graduating from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Varujan Voskanian has risen to become an important force in Romania’s literary and academic community. He holds the post of Vice-President of the Writers’ Union of Romania and has written several volumes of poetry and prose. In 2009, he published “The Book of Whispers” which has achieved tremendous success in Romanian cultural circles and is now regarded as the 2009 Book of the Year.
This volume is a living story, an epopee of the Armenian community in Romania, a history that spans the last nearly 100 years.
The book’s plot is woven with the characters of the author’s own family – with his grandfather Garabet as protagonist.
Naturally, in focusing the reader on the author’s grandparents, “The Book Of Whispers” examines the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in Turkey – the epochal calamity that sadly befell our people and robbed countless families of their homes, churches, schools, livelihoods and murdered 1.5 million people.
Like many Armenians who managed to escape the Genocide, Varujan Voskanian’s relatives found their way to Romania – their adoptive second home where they became proud patriots who enjoyed the freedom to practice their religion and maintain their ancient traditions.
The story of the book continues through the decades into Romania’s post World War II era where occupying Soviet troops brought with them both Communism and dictatorship. It is in these times that Voscanian recounts the story of how a group of Nationalist Armenians were rounded up and deported to Russia where many perished in Siberian gulags. Similar sad tales of Romanian Armenians being “repatriated” to Armenia also form part of the colorful fabric of this important work.
As a reader, I found The Book Of Whispers” difficult to put down as I was continually drawn to the parallels in my own family’s history as Romanian Armenians. But I believe that this volume will resonate with all Armenians who understand what it meant to adopt a new country, a new language and a new culture while preserving our rich heritage.
Rather than share more of the plot, I simply invite you to allow The Book Of Whispers” to captivate you.
The Book of Whispers is currently available in Romanian. Italian and Spanish translations are currently in progress and English, French and Armenian will follow.