What is the best-known book set in Armenia?

See note on methodology

Most of the books which are tagged “Armenia” on both LibraryThing and Goodreads deal with one obvious and awful historical event, whose 100th anniversary will be grimly commemorated next month. But (for reasons which are not surprising) very few of them are actually set in the boundaries of today’s Republic of Armenia, because that was precisely the territory held by the Russian Empire rather than the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

The top book tagged “Armenia” on Goodreads and LibraryThing is also the most widely owned by a long way on Goodreads, and a close second on LibraryThing. Published as recently as 2012, it is mainly set in what is now Syria, alternating between 1915 and the near-present day. It is:

The Sandcastle Girls, by Chrus Bohjalian

The top book by ownership on LibraryThing is set in what’s now Turkey, largely in Istanbul with an American subplot, and is also fairly recent (2008). It follows an intertwined Armenian/Turkish family history over the generations since 1915. It is:

Baba ve Piç / The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Şafak

An Armenian fairy tale also scores very well, having had a very popular and well-illustrated American publication in 1971. It’s the story of a fox whose tail gets cut off. While it’s not absolutely clear that the action takes place in Armenia, it’s worth noting here:

One Fine Day, by Nonny Hogrogian

The top book on both LT and GR that is clearly set on the territory of today’s Republic of Armenia is a 1960s account of a Russian writer who move there to edit a translation of an Armenian novel into Russian. It’s not a hugely satisfactory answer, given the particular circumstances of this case, but it is the best I am going to get, I suspect. It is:

Добро вам! / Armenian Sketchbook, by Vasily Grossman

One thought on “What is the best-known book set in Armenia?

  1. Have you read the D’Arcy murder-mystery stories by Randall Garrett? They often pastiche Christie plots — “The Murder on the Napoli Express” is a given considering the title but other stories also have Christie-type plots woven into the well-developed alt-hist setting. It also helps to read the D’Arcy stories if you like puns and in-jokes.

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