Matter of Copyright: Armenian publishers of novel by Azeri writer ready to pay compensation upon request

Matter of Copyright: Armenian publishers of novel by Azeri writer ready to pay compensation upon request

Photolure

The Nork publishing house-released Armenian translation of Azeri writer Akram Aylisli’s novel, titled Stone Dreams, has raised another wave of discontent in Azerbaijan. The author himself says the Armenians have translated his novel without a copyright permission.

The book publisher Ruben Hovsepyan confirms that the book was translated without Aylisli’s knowledge, but says they tried to get in touch with him, sent him an email to preserve all the copyright requirements, however Aylisli did not respond.

“We understand that it is copyrighted, but if in the future he makes financial claims, decides to sue us, we will compensate. There is no author in the world that would not like his work to be translated,” says Hovsepyan.

Aylisli’s Stone Dreams was first published in Russian in 2012 in the Druzhba Narodov (Friendship of Nations) periodical, which sparked a government-orchestrated outcry in Azerbaijan. Aylisli’s depiction of Armenian massacres in Baku and the negative portrayal of the killings committed by Azeri refugees from Armenia particularly sparked criticism against the author. This also led to persecution of the 75-year-old writer in Azerbaijan. With a special order, President Ilham Aliyev stripped the writer of his People's Writer title and individual pension.

Stone Dreams tells about Aylisli’s birthplace, historic Agulis. Translator of the book Leonid Zilfugharyan says the author’s narrative is very honest, inspired by the tiled streets and paved roads, gardens, twelve half-ruined or completely destroyed Armenian churches of Agulis.

“My God, what a place! Did that terrace-like world on a mountain slope ascending from a steep riverside really exist in Aylis?… Did Aylis stretch that far, or who put together all the stone steps and terraces of the world in the narrow gorge of Aylis. What place that is, my Lord,” wrote Aylisli.

For the first time in Azeri reality an Azeri writer dares to speak sincerely and present an Armenian not as an enemy. In the atmosphere of anti-Armenian hysteria he presents as an eye-witness the Azeri’s brutalities during the Sumgait and Baku pogroms of Armenians in 1988-1990s. In his novel he also comments on the fact that Heydar Aliyev instigated the pogroms of Armenians in order to come to power.

The writer has requested the United States, British and other countries’ embassies in Azerbaijan, as well as representatives of the European Union, OSCE and European Council to familiarize themselves with the novel and express their attitude.

The climax of Azeri hysteria was the Modern Musavat party leader's statement – he promised 10,000 manats (about $12,750) to the one who would cut off Akram Aylisli’s ear. The writer’s wife and son have lost their jobs. The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party MP Mubariz Gurbanli, in an interview to the Trend news agency, defined the Stone Dreams as “black PR” against Azerbaijan.

“Akram Aylisli’s ill-famed Stone Dreams novel has been released in Armenian. Of course, the enemy is aloof, applying all measures of black PR, ideological sabotage and campaign against Azerbaijan,” he said.

“Armenians, first having translated it into Armenian, then into other languages, will tell the world “look, this has been written by an Azeri, by an Azeri writer”, when the Azeri society does not even recognize him as a writer.”

Law-makers of Milli Mejlis believe that the “book is a moral blow against the Azeri people”. MP Nizami Zafarov suggested that Aylisli be deprived of his citizenship, saying “let him go to Yerevan and serve at a church”.

Meanwhile, expert in international law and Azeri affairs Sargis Asatryan believes the Stone Dreams is a splendid example to show why we should refrain from resuming the war.

“It is a one-in-a-kind psychological analysis of the bloody events of the 80-s, due to which numerous supporters have united around the writer, despite the persecution. It means that there is a stratum, which is indeed against the resumption of active hostilities,” he says.

Constitutional Court adviser Gevorg Danielyan, who is also board chairman of the Armenian Constitutional Law Center, counters that all this has been done to lead Armenians into an illusion that there are people in Azerbaijan who can speak freely and not be brutally persecuted. He says the writer was guided by one scenario, which is the ideology of today’s Azerbaijan.

“The novel depicts the atrocities committed by the Azeri against Armenians in Agulis settlement of Nakhijevan in 1919, and parallels are drawn with 1988-1990s’ Sumgait and Baku pogroms,” he says. “In the novel, Baku pogroms were organized by those who had been subjected to violence there, were unable to revenge and tried to do so against the native Armenian population, which is an obvious lie.”

He is also suspicious whether the writer is really persecuted. “We are well aware that if an Azeri perceives someone as a traitor in his country, he takes an axe and does not limit his actions to verbal criticism only. We should be a little bit more careful.”

Writer-publicist Pertch Zeytuntsyan writes about the Stone Dreams: “For twenty years I have been wondering if there would be one person among seven million to voice the truth. I am rejoiced that such a person has come along. The novel was written long time ago, but Aylisli published it after the Safarov affair. He did it by his own will, which took courage. Some courage, I’d say, imagine being one among the seven-million delusional nation…Pamuk, Aylisli, do they love Armenians? They love their people, their homeland, they want to somehow clean up the mess. That is their driving motive.”

Prose writer, publisher Hovsepyan believes that the book is like flickering light in the darkness, coming to say that not everything is lost yet, and for that message Azerbaijan should thank him.

In his book Aylisli writes about a little girl Lusik who was visiting her grandmother in Agulis and kept drawing pictures. That little girl is the same painter Lusik Aguletsi who, during a recent interview, told about her meeting with Akram Aylisli.

One thousand copies of the novel's Armenian version are available to Armenian readers starting this week.