Atamian Wins 2017 Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature for ‘A Poet in Washington Heights’

WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Regional Executive Committee of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of the Eastern United States announced on Friday that Christopher Atamian is the winner of the fourth Minas and Kohar Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature, for his forthcoming poetry collection titled A Poet in Washington Heights. The book will be published by Nauset Press.

Christopher Atamian

Atamian was the winner of the inaugural Minas and Kohar Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature for his translation of Nigoghos Sarafian’s The Bois de Vincennes.

Atamian is a translator, writer, and director. In 2006, he produced the OBIE Award-winning play “Trouble in Paradise” and was included as an invited artist to the 2009 Venice Biennale for his video “Desire.” His short films and videos have screened throughout the world, and he appears regularly in such publications as the Huffington Post and the New York Times, and was for several years the dance critic for the now-defunct New York Press. Atamian has written one novel, Speaking French, and has worked on several commercial musicals and film scripts.

In his work as a translator, Atamian has translated six books from French and Western Armenian into English, including The Bois de Vincennes, and three for Columbia University’s Middle Eastern Studies Department: Krikor Beledian’s Fifty Years of Armenian Literature in France, and Marc Nichanian’s Literature and Catastrophe and The Armenian Language throughout History. He has also translated Philippe Delma’s The Rosy Future of War (The Free Press) and is currently at work on Denis Donikian’s Vidures/Offal, an award-winning novel published on Actes Sud.

The cover of Fifty Years of Armenian Literature in France, translated by Atamian

Atamian has worked in senior positions for leading media companies, including ABC, Ogilvy Interactive, and JP Morgan’s marketing division. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his MBA from Columbia Business School, and is also an alumnus of USC Film School. He has been a Fulbright, Bronfman, and Gulbenkian Scholar.

Atamian has been active in the Armenian community since he was a teenager and has served on the board of the Columbia Center for Armenian Studies and as executive director of the Armenia Fund USA. He was the elected president two years running of the Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY) and currently sits on this organization’s board of trustees.

Named after one of the major Armenian literary critics of the second half of the 20th century and his wife, a devoted teacher of that literature for decades, the annually awarded Minas and Kohar Tölölyan Prize in Contemporary Literature recognizes the work produced by talented writers working in North America. The prize is intended to encourage new work in all the major genres of literary production, as they are currently understood in North America. Works in Armenian, English, French, and Spanish are considered if the authors are of Armenian ancestry or the work has an Armenian theme or revolves around an Armenian topic.

Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society’s Eastern Regional Executive initiated this prize a number of years ago to encourage and recognize those who write in the Armenian language or on Armenian topics. The financial award of $1,500 is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Edward and Vergine Misserlian of San Francisco, Calif.

The jury consists of Dr. Sima Aprahamian (Montreal), Anoush Agnerian (Montreal), Dr. Vartan Matiossian (New York/New Jersey), and Gourgen Arzoumanian (California).

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