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The Gray House Paperback – April 25, 2017
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"Beginning with a straightforward, realistic style, Ms. Petrosyan slowly and carefully leads the reader step by step through suspension of belief to the House’s inner workings, which manifest in increasingly fluid sentences and offbeat vocabulary…its intended audience will savor each page and flip right back to the beginning after finishing. Hats off, then, to Mariam Petrosyan for a surreal ride through an unconventional universe."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Rich with startling details and vivid world building...the intellectually and emotionally rewarding conclusion confirms this fantasy novel’s undeniable power"—Publishers Weekly
"Petrosyan's prose is wildly imaginative and beautifully wrought, overflowing in Machkasov's translation with rich sensory details that combine with an offbeat sense of humor to form a fully realized world. This dense, heady tale should be enjoyed by seasoned readers of literary fiction and magical realism…An impressive—and impressively massive—feat of imagination and translation."—Kirkus Reviews
“The Gray House is enigmatic and fantastical, comic and postmodern, flawed but brilliant, with elements of multiple genres—Rowling meets Rushdie via Tartt…To its most ardent fans, a spell in Petrosyan’s mysterious house is nothing short of life-changing.” —The Guardian
“Yuri Machkasov’s translation is a Herculean feat.…Machkasov has captured the novel’s poetic richness.” —The Guardian
About the Author
Mariam Petrosyan was born in 1969 in Yerevan, Armenia. In 1989 she graduated with a degree in applied arts and worked in the animation department of Armenfilm movie studio. In 1992 she moved to Moscow to work at Soyuzmultfilm studio, then returned to Yerevan in 1995.
The Gray House is Petrosyan’s debut novel. After working on it for eighteen years, she published it in Russia in 2009, and it became an instant bestseller, winning several of the year’s top literary awards, including the Russian Prize for the best book by a Russian author living abroad. The book has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and Lithuanian.
In interviews Petrosyan frequently says that readers should not expect another book from her, since, for her, The Gray House is not merely a book but a world she knew and could visit, and she doesn’t know another one.
Petrosyan is married to Armenian artist Artashes Stamboltsyan. They have two children.
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In any case, the substance of the book itself is difficult to describe, as it is unlike any other fantasy I have ever read. Putting in a genre or attempting to give it a description in fact does it some immediate disservice - the best way to experience this book is to simply dive in unprepared, not knowing to expect, and let it amaze you with its beauty and mystery - which it inevitably will. It is beautifully, hauntingly written, its characters will first shock you and then immediately proceed to find permanent homes in your very soul. The story is a multi-layered, engrossing vision that will thrill you with its constant mystery, ambush you with unbound fantasy, and yet feel amazingly intimate and relatable all at the same time.
This book was a labor of love for the author - she worked on it for over ten years, cradling and growing it inside of her until it was finally ready to come out - and it shows. It's a truly special and magical work.
Special shout out to the translator - it's a tough and challenging job to put something like this into another language while preserving its soul.