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Go on Living


Over 70,000 copies sold

Full English translation available

Narine Abgaryan’s collection of short stories Go on Living poses the simplest yet hardest question about how, in the aftermath of terrible tragedy, people learn to live, love and hope anew, while cherishing the memories of the loved ones lost.

Set in the picturesque village of Berd, the collection traces the interconnected lives of its inhabitants, seemingly unremarkable villagers who go on about their lives, tending to their daily tasks, engaging in their quotidian squabbles, and celebrating small joys amid a luscious, beautiful local landscape. Yet their seemingly unremarkable existence in a setting imbued with a deliberate sense of being suspended in time and space belies an unspeakable tragedy: every character in Agbaryan’s stories must contend with the unbearable burden of loss that they have suffered during the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. 

The war itself rages largely off the book’s pages and appears only in small and fragmented flashbacks, and Abgaryan’s stories focus instead on the war’s aftermath, portraying the different ways in which the survivors work, as individuals and as a community, to find a way forward. 

For some, the toll is a psychological one, as the opening vignette introduces the reader to Zanazan, a beautiful young woman who has lost her unborn child, her husband, and her ability to speak to enemy shelling, and who now lives in the care of her elderly mother-in-law. 

The middle-aged Metaksia visits her stepson’s grave and chats with him as if they were sitting across from each other at a dinner table. 

Agnessa, whose ill-fated desire to keep her daughter warm in a bomb shelter has cost her not only her own limbs but also the life of her child finds love and a chance at redemption with a new family. Lusine, who barely recalls her mother, abducted and brutally murdered by the enemy, receives, as an engagement present, the last surviving rug woven by her mother. 

Anichka, whose entire family has been brutally murdered, forges a platonic relationship with a widower whose son has been left incapacitated by yet another act of senseless violence.

The characters in Abgaryan’s book have lived through unimaginable loss, but their sadness is described as cathartic, engendering hope where all hope must be lost. The book, set up as 31 interconnected short stories, has no single protagonist; instead, the book is centered around the resilience of the human spirit and its ability to soar above. Written in Abgaryan’s signature prose style that weaves elements of Armenian folkloric tradition into its prose, the book simultaneously mourns and celebrates human life.

Book details


Novellas, short stories, 2014

280 pp

Rights sold

  • World English Plough

  • Bulgarian Labirint

  • Armenian Newmag Publishing

  • Hungarian Typotex Kiadó

  • Romanian Humanitas

  • Czech Prostor

Literary awards

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