The Candidate is one of the most masterful, psychologically penetrating vels in Armenian diaspora literature. Published in 1967 at a time of political awakening among the descendants of survivors of the Armenian gecide, the vel explores themes of trauma, forgiveness, reconciliation, friendship, and sacrifice, and examines the relationship between victim and perpetrator. The book opens in 1927 in Paris after Minas has found his friend Vahakn's body on the floor of the apartment they share. In a fragmentary way, Minas tells of his meeting Vahakn in the cafes of the Latin Quarter; the friendship that joins them; their conversations with Ziya, a Turkish student in Paris; Vahakn's murder of Ziya; and Vahakn's suicide. At the core of the vel is the te Vahakn leaves Minas to explain the enigma of Ziya's murder and his own suicide. The letter recounts Vahakn's and his mother's deportation from their village in the Ottoman Empire; his mother's death and Vahakn's adoption by a Turkish woman, Fatma, who rapes and abuses him; his feelings of alienation and self-estrangement in France; and his inability to adapt to life after trauma. Kwn for his invation of the Western Armenian vel, Vorpouni challenges the narrative elements of the conventional vel by playing with subjectivity and linearity. His melding of contemporary French literary and intellectual currents produces a literary and cultural hybrid unique in Western Armenian literature.
Zareh Vorpouni (1902-1980) was a prominent Armenian writer. He is the author of numerous novels and short story collections, including The Persecuted, a cycle of four novels published between 1929 and 1974: The Attempt, The Candidate, Asphalt, and A Regular Day. This is the first of his novels to be translated into English. Jennifer Manoukian is a translator of Western Armenian literature, most recently The Gardens of Silihdar by Zabel Yessayan. Ishkhan Jinbashian is the translator of numerous books, including Passage through Hell and The Fatal Night.