About "Stone Dreams" again
‘And how did it happen that when Adif–bey ordered to exterminate the Armenians in Aylis, this jackal Abdulla suddenly blew off steam? He ran home, grabbed an axe and rushed to the house of Minas. Minas was sitting calmly carving a stone. This rascal Abdulla attacked him from behind, cut his head off and then did not spare the poor fellow’s wife or children. Now, could you please tell me: can Gulu live quietly in the house of Minas? No, I swear to God! The spirit of poor Minas will never let him rest.
This is an excerpt from ‘Stone Dreams,’ a book by famous Azerbaijani writer, Akram Aylisli. It gives one an idea of the entire content of the novel. To sum it up, the book is full of stories about all sorts of brutal abuse of innocent Armenians by Azerbaijanis, starting from 1919 till 1990.
The novel was published in the Russian ‘Druzhba Narodov (Friendship of Nations) magazine in 2012. It’s not hard to imagine how the Azerbaijani society responded to that. Even when not taking into account state propaganda, many have Azerbaijanis had a very different experience of communicating with Armenians than the author, who being enamored by ancient churches, shares his impressions with the people.
Politicians, the public and the mass media have reacted differently based on their knowledge of literature and their different degrees of patriotism:
- demonstrative burning of Aylisli’s books in Baku, Ganja and Aylis
- the denial of all Aylisli’s awards and titles by Presidential decree (he was a popular writer and received a presidential grant)
- the separation of Aylisli’s wife and son
- accusations of pro-Armenian propaganda
- Chairman of the ‘Modern Musavat’ party, Hafiz Hajiyev (also known as Hafiz the Fish, who became renowned for his frankly stupid remarks about anything and everything), call for the cutting off Aylisli’s ear and the promise by his party to pay 10 thousand AZN for that very ear
- the removal of Aylisli’s works from school curriculums
The Armenian media supported Aylisli as ‘the writer who finally told the truth.’ The Russian and foreign mass media immediately proclaimed him a martyr.
‘What should a writer do if he can neither keep silent nor lower his voice? He should do exactly what Akram Aylisli who acts as a figure of hate,’ Lev Annenskiy’s review reads.
In general, Aylisli perfectly fits the image of a persecuted righteous artist, and that image has opportunely overshadowed both the artistic drawbacks of the ‘Stone Dreams,’ as well as the gaps in the plot and obvious lopsidedness of the idea itself.
After this the scandal was forgotten for a long time. However, on March 30, Aylisli, while leaving for a Venice book festival, was detained at Baku airport. He was told he had been banned from leaving the country. That is, at least, what his wife told reporters.
Then came the second version: ‘I was shown an explanatory report. As it was pointed out in the airport shift foreman’s explanatory report, I had allegedly stricken him, there was a fist trace along with an expert’s opinion on the matter, said Akram Aylisli. Let us remind you that the writer is 78.
According to the press service of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Azerbaijan, criminal proceedings against Aylisli have been instituted under Article 221 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.
Social media users responded in a reserved manner.
‘Apart from the Nobel Prize, Aylisli can be also awarded the WBA boxing belt for a short right hook’
‘I know Aylisli by his works-‘A tale of a lonely pomegranate’ and ‘My aunt is a storyteller,’ rather than by the weak and inadequate ‘Stone Dreams.’
‘Aylisli thinks that Armenians are all ‘angels’ and that we are all bad. Whereas, our people believe that we are all ‘angels’ and Armenians are all bad. These are two forms of idiocy. It would be funny to watch them butt heads, but regrettably the greater form of idiocy may easily take Aylisli down, and that’s not fair, no matter what he has written. ‘
Pro-governmental media remarked that Aylisli was indeed the author of those ‘Stone Dreams’. Haqqin.az even hinted that the author had made it all up about the Armenian massacres, which, as turns out, was not the case in Baku in 1990.
The opposition-oriented independent media, in turn, made no mention of the novel, but commented on the writer’s persecution and burning of his books.
Aylisli was detained at the airport for several hours, but then he was released. ‘In Soviet times and thereafter I deservedly represented Azerbaijan at many international events. Why should I be dismissed from that mission now? There are no reasons for that. If it is related to ‘Stone Dreams,’ this piece has already gone beyond the political context and now has a life of its own, says the writer.