Ukrainian Media about the novel “Freedom”
The Ukrainian newspaper “Slovo Prosviti” has published an interview with Afag Masud, the People’s Writer of Azerbaijan, the author of the novel “Freedom”, translated into Ukrainian and issued in the past years in Kyiv at the “Druge Dykhannya” Publishing House on the initiative and with the financial support of the Union of Writers of Ukraine.
The interview, published under the title “The People Wished to Breathe Freely…”, reveals the historical background of the novel and the author’s vision on people’s and personal freedom, tells about the socio-political upheavals against which the plot of the work unfolds.
It is worth noting that the newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is Pavlo Movchan, a notable poet and translator, is considered one of the oldest and most influential Ukrainian publications.
The interview is available at link:
– Afag khanum, your creativity is well known to Ukrainian readers. Your book “Freedom”, published in 2017 in Kyiv in Ukrainian, was met with great interest. First of all, I would like to know your thoughts, impressions about Ukraine and Ukrainians…
‒ Ukraine has always been as a homeland for us ‒Azerbaijanis, Ukrainians are our friends and brothers. It is gratifying that the spiritual kinship that has bound our peoples from time immemorial continues to this day. These are noble impulses, spiritual intimacy, which are alien to the material or political background. In my opinion, this relationship is based on a similar mentality and characteristics of both peoples. In this case the talk is primarily in the all-
consuming, great human love, mercy, endurance, spirituality and sincerity.
‒ While discussing your book “Freedom” Ukrainian literary critics often mentioned symbolism. What is the role of symbolism in your creativity? Indeed, in the Azerbaijani culture and mentality symbolism is embedded in every word, deed ... This is very interesting and at the same time difficult, unusual for the Ukrainian reader ...
‒ A few words about the symbolism in the novel. Such an impression is obviously created by the events and situations described in the work that take place in some elusive, weightless worlds parallel to reality. It is in these areas that the secret of hidden truths reveals itself. That is, our dreams and the images that appear in them, which we consider contentless, are in fact a treasure trove of ancient, hidden truths rooted in our subconscious, and this world, which sometimes has a fateful significance, is as tangible as reality, and even more so.
‒ What inspired you to write the novel “Freedom”?
‒ The novel “Freedom” came in the early 90s ‒ these were troubled, turbulent times when Azerbaijan rose to fight for its independence. At that time, Azadliq (Freedom) Square, located not far from Baku Boulevard, became the pulsating heart of Azerbaijan; people from all over the country flocked here, and the exclamation “Freedom!” was on everyone’s lips. It was an incredibly impressive sight. People had for many years been steadily enduring the hardships of life in the Soviet Union, subjugated by Soviet ideology, yearning to breathe free. Indeed, I was also part of all these events and witnessed how people did not leave the square all day and even on Sundays, but made fires and spent the night in tents on some dark, cold nights. In this stream of people, there were also those who did not understand the true essence of what was going on and who were worried about petty domestic problems that had accumulated over the years, but also loudly shouted “Freedom!” It was a completely different ‒ sobering picture. Motivated by the desire to explain to these people the meaning of what is happening, the essence of freedom, I set down and began to write a novel.
‒ It seems as if calling your novel with the word “Freedom”, you put some special meaning into it ...
‒ You know, freedom is something mystical, just like the universe itself. Considering the concept of freedom from the human rights perspective and freedoms, the freedom of an entire people, or a single person, it becomes quite obvious that this concept contains a great many mysteries, immersed in the twilight of labyrinths and nooks and crannies. I realized this when I started working on the novel. In other words, the essence and result are deeper here. We are talking about the inner freedom of the Individual, the Personality ‒ the representative of the whole people, nation. And if this person, being a physiological one, is not free, and is not free due to some circumstances, by the fact of his birth, if he is subject to illness, old age and, ultimately, is doomed to death, if he is not free even in his bed, in his silent, intimate dreams, inaccessible to anyone else, in other words, if he is powerless to change the course of his destiny, then what kind of freedom can we talk about?! And this picture always appeared before my eyes when I studied other aspects of “Freedom”. If everything around consists of countries and peoples, everything that exists is closely intertwined and interconnected, then how can one find freedom in this complex structure of dependencies and interdependencies?
‒ If we talk about symbolism, then at the time when the novel “Freedom” was presented to the Ukrainian reader, our country was experiencing something similar to what is described in this work. I want to say that your novel “Freedom” was a moral support for many of us in such a difficult situation for Ukraine. Perhaps it was also very symbolic. “Freedom” appeared in Ukraine at the most appropriate and necessary moment. What would you say about it?
‒ In general, today the boundaries between the real and ephemeral, unreal worlds are washed away, and it becomes obvious that our life and everything that happens around us develop according to a predefined scenario, sometimes incomprehensible to our mind. Here you say “Freedom”, and events in Ukraine appear before your eyes. What is described in the novel has something in common with events in Georgia, Russia and a number of Arab countries, where this novel had been published. Here, there is not complete without mysticism, but kind of really symbolic. Similar stories had been unfolding throughout the history in many countries, and they are still topical today. It is difficult to name a people and a nation that have not fought for centuries for democratic values, a free society, freedom, demanding all this as a manifestation of the supreme good of human life ‒Rights of humanity. It’s been that way for centuries, and I will never change. If you dig deeper, that is, look at the very essence of the issue of the right to life and personal liberty, which determines the nation and society, you feel yourself on the verge of inexplicable, incomprehensible truths, realizing how incomprehensible, vast, infinite the Universe is, which can be compared perhaps to the mystery of attainment of the human soul.
‒ The novel tells about the era that preceded Heydar Aliyev’s return to power. It was a fateful, historical stage, when the statehood of Azerbaijan found itself in the face of danger. Ukraine followed the analogous path. How do you think, can the Ukrainian reader find in the novel “Freedom” impulses contributing to the elimination of threats to statehood and ensuring the stay of our country on the path of prosperity and development?
‒ At first glance, the novel seems to be a historical work. This is partly true, because it tells about the socio-political events that swept Azerbaijan in the 80s of last century, the fate of the masses who stood up to fight for independence, about what was happening on Azadliq (“Freedom”) Square, about the puppet government, its incompetence and inexperience that led the country to the abyss, the tragicomic events that were unfolding before the eyes of the whole people, and much more. From the point of view of human freedom, social and political freedoms, the square movement and in many other aspects, the plot of the novel coincides with the events currently taking place in many parts of the world, which is why interest in the novel does not diminish even after many years. In its genre, the novel belongs to the psychological-mystical drama. And from the perspective of preventing threats to statehood, in my opinion, the work is quite impulsive. It should be noted that the events described in the first chapter of the novel “Freedom”, images and situations reflect the realities of the era. This chapter is about a country that barely got rid of the fetters of the Soviet system, and a handful of people who took advantage of its ownerlessness and seized power, but who did not have the slightest idea about the foundations of the state and statehood, and who because of their political short-sightedness and stupidity brought misfortune on the head of the unfortunate people. Looking over the past days, it becomes obvious what a fateful role the return of Heydar Aliyev to power played, and the fact that he saved the country and people from a deep and seemingly insoluble crisis is indisputable.
‒ As is known, Azerbaijan is at the crossroads of East and West. To what culture do Azerbaijanis consider themselves to belong ‒ eastern or western?
‒ Azerbaijan has an ancient and rich culture. The history of our writing originates from the dastan of Dede Korkut and continues with works by Afzaladdin Khagani, Nizami Ganjavi, Imadeddin Nasimi, whose 650th anniversary is widely celebrated this year not only in our country, but also in Ukraine, Mohammed Fuzuli, Shah Ismail Khatai and the works of other outstanding figures who have made an invaluable contribution to the world treasury of thought. Azerbaijan is famous all over the world for its composers, and what are the only names of great Uzeyir Hajibeyli, Gara Garayev and Fikret Amirov! The paintings of our prominent artists, such as Sattar Bahlulzade and Javad Mirjavadov are exhibited in famous museums around the world. This list, of course, can be continued indefinitely. Our land has raised true geniuses who brought innovation to the history of world culture with their thoughts, feelings and sensations. Such a rich and multifaceted culture cannot be attributed only to the West or only to the East. This is a universal human heritage. Our mugham is listened to with pleasure and appreciated in America and Europe. There is the same reverent attitude towards our literature and fine arts...
‒ What would you wish for your Ukrainian readers?
‒ First of all, identity, attainment and comprehension of yourself as an individual and a nation, the importance of maintaining independence, openness to the world, achieving truth and justice.