Orhan Pamuk and Dog Son of Dog: Voices From the Other Side of the Border

By Armen Melikian, PRNE
Thursday, September 9, 2010

A new American novel draws powerful parallels with Pamuk's Snow

LOS ANGELES, September 11, 2010 - In a forthcoming novel of ideas mirroring the breakneck paradigm shifts
of the 21st century, Los Angeles writer Armen Melikian engages in a direct
conversation with Turkish author Orhan Pamuk's Snow. Melikian's novel, titled
Journey to Virginland, tackles a broad array of philosophical, religious,
political, sexual, and gender issues discussed by Pamuk, and in a sense
continues Snow's narrative on the other side of the border from Kars.
Melikian's antihero, a modern day Diogenes called Dog, substantially widens
the scope of the investigation which Pamuk's protagonist, Ka, has undertaken
to expose a reactionary cultural milieu that has spawned an epidemic of
suicides by young women.

Melikian is a prodigious new voice in American literature. Commenting on
his debut novel, Paul McCarthy, a professor of literature at Ulster
University and a New York Times bestselling author, writes, "I am struck by
the extraordinary writing, vision, and, perhaps rarest of all, originality of
Journey to Virginland. In the best sense, I'm reminded of George Orwell's
classics, and other authors of similar stature, though there is no true
parallel possible with a novel as unique in concept and execution as Journey
to Virginland."

Pamuk's story takes place mostly in Turkey's Kars region; Melikian's
novel unfolds in neighboring Armenia. Both societies have for centuries
shared Ottoman rule. From either side of the border, both Melikian and Pamuk
mount an intricate, panoramic critique of their respective homelands with
brutal honesty and a profound humanness. Melikian lived in Armenia for three
years before being exiled for his devilishly iconoclastic writings.

In a soliloquy that opens the novel, Melikian's antihero plunges into a
negative notion of retrograde time: "From April 11, 2006, until March 21,
, almost every day between 4:11 and 4:03 AM, the shadow of a dog kept
appearing above my bed. At first she was silent. She stayed for some time,
then left. She looked glum and seemed to wish to relay something. One day,
when I tried to touch the apparition, she barked. I was startled. The voice
came from afar, as though from a different world. When one night, already
used to the presence, I unconsciously muttered, 'Who are you?' the spirit
answered, 'I am Necip's dog from the city of Kars.' The following night she
told me to write down everything she was to relate in the course of the next
three years."

While Melikian (known in Armenia as Dog Son of Dog, after his
protagonist) has a style and identity all his own, he, like Pamuk, is an
erudite critic of literal traditionalism and modernism alike, focusing on the
multilayered foibles and contradictions of 21st-century Armenian society. Yet
Armenia is but a point of departure in Melikian's far-reaching critical
compass. Soon enough, the reader is given a box seat before the seismic
shifts of our times, the pivotal cultural and spiritual failures of a world
held hostage to hypercapitalism, post-9/11 realpolitik, and an ominous
resurgence of nationalism and religious extremism.

Journey to Virginland stands apart by the exhilarating paths of change
which it proposes. With its dazzling scope, sheer storytelling prowess, and
its expansion of the novelistic endeavor as an artistic medium per se, this
novel establishes itself as a rare literary enterprise.

For more information about Orhan Pamuk's unexpectedly appearing and
archetypal Armenian "double," whom Pamuk once searched for in Istanbul, or to
get your copy of Journey to Virginland, visit

Rosette Miller, publicity at JourneyToVirginland.com

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