Author and journalist Valeri Manto, who worked for the Charlie Hebdo weekly magazine between 2008 and 2013, lives in Marseille and Istanbul. Her book Agos is a bestseller in France. The exhibition for the Armenian translation took place at the French Embassy in Armenia, which the author also participated in. This is her second book. Valeri used her expertise to unite different genres, including fictional autobiographies, documentaries, political satire, and romance. The author traveled from Marseille to Istanbul to meet her former friend, her leftist friends, and her yoga instructor, and she began to discover Istanbul and its residents.
The main character in Agos lived in the Asian portion of the Bosphorous for 1.5 years, where she investigated Hrant Dink’s life and the place where the tragedy took place. Regarding Manto’s book, French author and filmmaker Virginie Despentes said, “It is an honest story that portrays modern Turkey. It describes what can happen in tomorrow’s France.”
During the exhibition, Valeri Manto said that one of her friends gifted her Agos editor Hrant Dink’s book, after which she began to be interested in Dink. She added that the book is also dedicated to her friends from Charlie Hebdo who died. “This book was not translated in Turkey, but I know some people there have it, and they are also reading it,” the author said.
“The Armenian translation of this book gave me the opportunity to visit Armenia and modestly try to do what Hrant Dink did. I also will be able to talk about people who continue their fight in today’s Turkey,” Valery Manto said. Regarding Dink, who wished to “cleanse Armenian blood of Turkish poison,” his dream also died.
The translator of the book, Samvel Gasparyan, said that Artak Aleksanyan suggested that he translate the book. He wanted to reject the offer in the beginning because it seemed difficult, but on the other hand, it was such an original idea that he could not help it. He expressed the hope that Manto will write a book about Armenia after her visit, and she will wish to see Mount Ararat. “You are not only welcomed in Turkey, but also Armenia,” Samvel Gasparyan said.
Regarding the book and Turkish reality, he said that he studied the Turkish national anthem. From his studies, he was able to get a picture of what that country is like since the national anthem contains an interesting phrase: “How can this faith be drowned by the single-toothed beast you call ‘civilization?’
According to Artak Aleksanyan, the executive director of Newmag, the company that published the Armenian translation of Valeri Manto’s book, said if this book interested them as a French perspective on Hrant Dink before the war, then now it is a French perspective on Turkish society, where they frequently propagate religious and ethnic hatred against their neighbors.
“Turkey was not an enemy of Armenia before the war. It was simply a problematic country due to the genocide, and it was never possible to establish relations. However, after the war, Turkey became Armenia’s number one enemy, and a state with which establishing economic, political, social, scientific, cultural, and any other types of relations will be the biggest threat to Armenia and the Armenian people in the coming decades,” Artak Aleksanyan said.