Brooklynite publishes debut novel inspired by journey in Armenia
Greenpoint resident Samuel Armen, 27, a recent Master’s Graduate from CUNY: Hunter’s Adolescent Education program, has released his debut novel “Within a Diminishing Caricature.” Armen began writing the novel after spending 40 days in Armenia in an effort to discover elements of his early life prior to his adoption at age 5.
This escapade — which involved piecing together the fragments of his childhood abandonment, being away from home and living with an array of new characters, and reading disarming psychological reports about himself as an infant — was for Armen a time of major identity conflicts. Though the novel is not autobiographical — Armen describes it as a “necrography” and an “uncoming of age story” — the text explores his struggles during and after those months, primarily depression and societal factors that comprise one’s self.
“Within a Diminishing Caricature” journeys through the last three years of a nameless 20-year-old New Yorker’s life up until the evening he commits suicide. The novel is comprised of 65 vignettes, an 11,111-word suicide note, and a 7,777-word collection of excerpts involving a sapient gust of wind that clandestinely psychoanalyzes the human beings it passes.
While the vignettes portray moments in the protagonist’s life that create the alchemy for psychological fractures, it is the excerpts and suicide note that truly dive into the inimical nature of his mechanisms. Themes of identity, free-will, psychological mechanisms, addiction, depression, family and art intertwine in this psychosocial voyage through one’s diminishing attachment to life.
The text leverages dozens of popular psychological and sociological theories, fervently rejects reductive terms such as “crazy” when dealing with mental issues and aspires to open up conversations about the complexity of human behaviors.
Though the novel is contemporary, set in 2008-2011, it is grounded in Homer’s “The Odyssey,” James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
Armen was born in Gyumri, Armenia on Oct. 12, 1988, just prior to the cataclysmic earthquake in December 1988. By the age of 5, he was adopted into an Armenian-American family in Long Island, N.Y. His first publications were as a journalist for the Armenian newspaper and website HetQ, where among other articles, he published a three-part cover-page narrative detailing his journey to find his biological ancestry. His undergraduate experience includes studying behavioral psychology at Boston University, screen-writing at NYU: Tisch and English literature at St. John’s University. He received his master’s in education in adolescent English at CUNY: Hunter College.
Armen’s novel can be purchased here: http://goo.gl/iO7HOs
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