This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Stepan Alajajian (January 3, 1924)  

Stepan Alajajian, a beginner  who moved to Soviet Armenia, became a prolific name in Armenian fiction, and then he emigrated again in the twilight of his life, this time to California.  

Alajajian was born in Aleppo, Syria, on January 3, 1924. He settled in Armenia in 1946 and graduated in 1951 from the Faculty of Philology of Yerevan State University. In 1957, he graduated from the literary courses adjunct to the Writers Union of the Soviet Union in Moscow. He returned to Yerevan, where he worked first as head of the prose department at the monthly Sovetakan Grakanutiun (1957-1963) and of the fiction department of Hayastan Printing House (1966-1967). He was a secretary of the Writers Union of Armenia between 1967 and 1975. He earned the title of Emeritus Cultural Worker of Armenia in 1970. He was the director of the Museum of Literature and Art “Yeghishe Charents” in the 1980s.   

He published a volume of poetry in 1942 in Aleppo before emigrating to Armenia, when, like many other writers before and after him, turned to fiction. He published many novels and novellas. His two-volume novel The Reeds Didn’t Bend (1966-1967), about the self-defense of Cilicia and particularly Zeitoun in 1920-1921, was partivcularly celebrated. He later published the three-volume novel Unhealed Wound (1989-1990, 1993) about Western Armenians in the period of 1912-1915.    

Alajajian’s works were published in a number of languages. He translated from English and French works by William Shakespeare, William Saroyan, H. G. Wells, Jean Paul Sartre, and others.  

He was the scriptwriter for the movies A Piece of Sky (Henrik Malian, 1980) and White Dreams (Sergei Israelian, 1984).   

Due to health reasons, he had to move to Los Angeles in 1992, where he published the literary monthly Aragast. He also published five volumes of memoirs, where he depicted the political and literary life of Armenia in the 1960s, between 1993 and 2009. He was awarded the golden medal of the Ministry of Culture of Armenia in 2008. He passed away on December 23, 2010, in Los Angeles.