Short Stories from Azerbaijan, in one volume

Launched in no less a place than the British Library in London (June 15th), by publisher Marat Akhmedjanov, this anthology makes available 28 Azerbaijani short stories in the English language for the very first time.

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Whilst the writers themselves may be as yet largely unknown to an English readership, the genre certainly is not - the English have always maintained an enduring fondness for the short story, and so many great writers, Dickens, Morrison, Conan-Doyle,  and H.G. Wells, to name just a handful, understood and fed this great appetite with gems that remain as popular today as they were so long ago.

There is always a great delight to be had in discovering the work of a previously unknown author (unknown to the reader his or herself, that is). This collection affords 24 such opportunities, 

Over the 20th century (when the majority of the stories were written) the styles, attitudes and natural subject matter changed, but in in each case the writer captures our attention, and holds it for a time, the time of a glimpse. The short stories in this anthology vary in tone and mood, from the from the cinematic, neatly-plotted affable 'A Georgian Surname' by Anar, to Sabir Ahmadli's account, as vivid with shock and outrage as if it were yesterday's news, of the Black January of 1990, in 'Martyr's Avenue', to the laconic, dreamlike inconsequentiality of 'A Dry Spell' by Saday Budaqli - but each in its different way enriches the reader's understanding, and engagement in her history... Notable is the fact that of the many stories, only three are explicitly set in the capital city, Baku; three more are without place, but very many are set in 'the village', as though the village is the natural setting story whose frame might require a smaller stage... Though the stories were mainly written from the mid-20th century on, rare are the references to the historical context; many of these stories are not bound by their Time.

Elizabeth White, Director, British Council, Azerbaijan

Short Stories from Azerbaijan, in one volume, is published by Hertfordshire Press.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

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