This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Hrant Matevosian

William Saroyan said of him: “You have someone here who is a great personality in world literature. He is Hrant Matevosian. (…) I have read his works in translation. He writes about Armenians, and that Armenianness is so accurate, that I’m amazed, I’m happy, and I feel proud. (…) And I’m proud, because a nation, you have to admit this, is known to the world through their art. And when art is so big, the nation too grows in the mind of the odar. 

Hrant Matevosian was born on February 12, 1935, in the village of Ahnidzor, now located in the Lori province of Armenia. He studied in the village school and then continued his education at the Pedagogical School of Kirovakan (now Vanadzor). In 1952 he moved to Yerevan, where he worked at a printing house and studied at the Faculty of Language and History of the Yerevan State Pedagogical Institute “Khachatur Abovian” (1958-1962). Later, he followed the courses of script-writing in Moscow (1965-1966). 

Matevosian entered the literary arena in 1961 with the essay “Ahnidzor,” which became very controversial, as it addressed the key problems of village life. His first collection of short stories and novellas, August, was published in 1967, and the second, Trees, in 1978. Matevosjan remained true to the traditional trend of the Armenian literature to present the village style, but he did that in a new style and manner. His literary pieces often reflected his bright recollections of childhood and revealed truths of life. He considered his homeland not just the cradle of stable moral values but also a place fostering connections between generations and promoting a better understanding of the concept. He published several other collections, like Our Run (1978) and “The Owner” (1983). In 1984 he won the State Prize of Armenia for his work Our Corner of the Great World” and the State Prize of the Soviet Union for the collection Your Family. His works were translated to many languages, including English and French. 

In 1996 he was decorated with the order of Mesrop Mashtots of the Republic of Armenia. 

The Armenfilm studios produced several movies based on his works or his scripts: We Are Our Mountains (1969), August (1976), Autumn Sun (1977), and The Owner (1984). Other works like Our Corner of the Great World, Neutral Zone, and Metzamor had theatrical versions. 

He was president of the Writers Union of Armenia between 1996 and 2000. He passed away on December 18, 2002, in Yerevan, and was buried in the Komitas Pantheon. The Writers Union established the Hrant Matevosian Literary Prize in 2004. A school and a street are named after him in Yerevan. Several volumes of his unpublished works were posthumously published.