Lebanese literature has reached an unprecedented level of artistry with the arrival of a young thinker and wordsmith, Armen Melikian. With Journey to Virginland, his debut novel, Melikian pushes the boundaries of Lebanese literature to a dazzling landscape replete with philosophical inquiry, sociopolitical observation, and vistas of sheer poetry.
At the core of the novel thrives the story of Dog, the protagonist, whose at turns outrageous and heart-wrenching experiences seamlessly complement Melikian’s incisive reflections on religion, folklore, history, art, politics, sex, and the gender wars. In the author’s wittily reconfigured world geography, Lebanon assumes a position of spiritual centrality, appearing under the mythological designation Adonis.
Writing about Melikian’s work, Paul McCarthy, a New York Times bestselling author and professor of English at the University of Ulster, Ireland, says: “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.”
Growing up in Lebanon, Melikian, the son of Armenian immigrants, was steeped in a culture of intellectual openness that has made Lebanese literature such a dynamic tradition of universal resonance. He went on to become a scholar of history, mythology, religion, and epic poetry, eventually giving expression to his many quests in Journey to Virginland, the first Epistle of a trilogy.
As with the greatest Lebanese authors, including Gibran Khalil Gibran and Amin Maalouf, Melikian juxtaposes Lebanon’s natural beauty with human weaknesses such as greed and tribalism as coordinates of life’s fundamental contradictions, once again defining Lebanese literature with a new vision of change at once breezily imaginative and profoundly inspirational.
Interested in reading Lebanese literature? Get your copy of Journey to Virginland today!