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My Armenian Friend

On sale

9th November 2023

Price: £10.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781914495458

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‘Powerful, poignant, perfectly-pitched . . . It’s a short tale of great significance. I found it unforgettable. . . a fine piece of writing’ Michael Palin

In this inspiring story, Andreï Makine looks back on a childhood friendship which changed his life. Set in 1970s Siberia, in the declining years of the Soviet Empire, My Armenian Friend offers a poignant evocation of ordinary lives as well as a window into Makine’s own evolution as a writer.

In an orphan school, a young Russian boy befriends Vardan, an Armenian child who, because mature and sensitive, is tormented by schoolyard bullies. When the Russian boy meets Vardan’s Armenian family, he falls under their spell. In his eyes, their home is a kingdom transported from afar, which is adorned, aromatic, and beautiful despite how little the family possesses. Their neighbourhood is in a place of exile but is one of community, made up of former prisoners, exhausted adventurers and others who have been uprooted from their homes. As he grows closer to Vardan, the Russian boy learns to recognise a people forced indefinitely to live on the margins, but who, despite persecution, hold on to their culture and cherish the memories they have of their homeland and its history. Even in a brutally inhospitable Siberia, they recreate a transformative “kingdom of Armenia”.

Reviews

Michael Palin
Powerful, poignant, perfectly-pitched . . . Makine illuminates a fascinating corner of history - brings it to life through finely-drawn characters. It's a short tale of great significance. I found it unforgettable. . . a fine piece of writing
Jilly Cooper
My Armenian Friend is full of heartbreak, heroism, cruelty redeemed by friendships that live in the memory forever, ravishing glimpses of nature, incredible courage. . . and above all, love
Figaro
Andreï Makine's most moving novel
France Inter
One of Makine's best books; a wonderful novel on exile
Kate McLoughlin, Professor of English Literature, Oxford University
Vintage Makine: as limpid and beautiful as a deep mountain pool
The Tablet
Makine makes the ordinary resonate with meaning and significance, thereby enhancing the reader's life . . . [He] is a stylist of great precision, beautifully rendered by his long-time translator, Geoffrey Strachan
David Mills, Times
A thoughtful coming-of-age story