CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The new literary journal Pangyrus includes several pieces by the Armenian feminist writer Zabel Yessayan in its recently released third issue.
Originally published in 2015 as an online journal, Pangyrus appears in this third issue in hard copy as well as online.
The Yessayan pieces consist of a chapter titled “My Home,” from the Istanbul-born Armenian writer’s memoir, The Gardens of Silihdar; a few pages from the author’s eyewitness account of the aftermath of the 1909 Adana massacres, In the Ruins; and the chilling mystery story “The Man,” published in the collection titled My Soul in Exile and Other Writings.
The Yessayan material is reprinted from the three books of Yessayan’s writings translated into English and published by the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA) as part of its series titled Treasury of Armenian Women’s Literature.
The Yessayan section of Pangyrus is preceded by a two-page description of Zabel Yessayan’s life and literary significance and is accompanied by several photographs.
Almost forgotten until recently, Yessayan (1878-1943) was a leading figure in the literary renaissance that took place in Western Armenia in the late 19th and early 20th century. After receiving her primary education at the Holy Cross School in Istanbul, Yessayan became one of the first Ottoman women to study abroad when she went to Paris and enrolled in the Sorbonne. Her articles, essays, and books quickly established her reputation as a leading writer associated with progressive circles in Paris and in Istanbul.
Yessayan’s life reflected the tumultuous events that accompanied the fall of the Ottoman Empire, World War I, and its aftermath The only woman on the list of Armenian intellectuals arrested and exiled in April 1915, she went into hiding and managed to escape to Bulgaria and, later, to the Caucasus, where she devoted herself to interviewing Armenian Genocide survivors and providing information to European (especially French) journalists about the condition of the Armenian.
Later Yessayan moved to Armenia, where she taught French literature at Yerevan State University and continued her writing. But soon she became a victim of the anti-intellectual policies of the Stalinist Armenian government, was arrested, and died in prison under unknown circumstances.
Editing and publication of the English-language translations of Zabel Yessayan’s works is carried on by AIWA’s Publications Committee, consisting of Judy Saryan, Barbara Merguerian Daniela Terpanjian, and Joy Renjilian-Burgy, Support was provided by the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Publication is part of AIWA’s mission to gather and distribute information about the history and current status of Armenian women.
Pangyrus is produced by a Boston-based group of writers, editors, and professionals who came together with a new vision to foster a community of creative individuals and organizations dedicated to art, ideas, and making culture thrive. Its aim is to publish well-crafted, thought-provoking writing and multimedia storytelling in every genre, including short stories, investigative reporting, reviews, essay and memoirs, flash fiction, poetry, journalism, short documentary film, and visual arts.
Editor of Pangyrus is Greg Harris, who has taught writing at Harvard since 2003, and the staff includes Fiction Editor Anne Bernays, Poetry Editor Cheryl Clark Vermeulen, Comics Editor Dan Mazur, Managing Editor of the Print Edition Ahna Wayne Aposhian, and several others.