Gunel Anargyzy, daughter of the well-known Azerbaijani writer and chairman of the Writers’ Union of Azerbaijan, Anar; in addition to HER writing, sees her mission in educating young people in an exciting and interesting way. She heads the Baku Book Center aimed at popularizing reading in our country, EFFECTIVELY ATTAINING HER goal, as reading becomES a trend YET again.
BY OXANA VALIYEVA
AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER
Question: In one interview, your parents said: “We never taught children how to behave, did not give any instructions what to do or how to live. You can try to direct the young generation towards positive results, however you should complement your recommendations with your own behavior…” Do you agree with such a method of upbringing?
Answer: My children, like me, grew up in an atmosphere of mutual understanding with good example. Children often learn from their parents’ external and internal world – from home life with its everyday decisions, to socially significant issues. Our children are our reflection, and adults must understand it. Therefore, if we want to grow-up smart, well-mannered and educated citizens of our country, we must start with ourselves.
Q.: Which person left a mark on your life?
A.: My mother’s sister Elmira Safarova. She was a talented musician, and worked as a conservatory teacher for many years. Her life philosophy, her attitude to the profession, to people, to friends, became the best example in my upbringing and shaped my personality to some extent. She taught me the most important thing – to think freely yet appropriately and to have my own point of view.
Q.: It is possible for us to describe you as a strong and successful woman? At the same time, you have empathetic feminine features. What are the qualities that lead a woman to success in the modern world?
A.: Purposefulness and a clear understanding of what I am doing and what I am doing it for. These are the primary qualities, which help me to progress. However, as a woman, I can afford to relax. Sometimes while enjoying a cup of coffee in a café, I like observing people, their relationships and emotions from the sidelines. In addition to the main characteristics of a successful woman, it is very important to choose a right way and stay the course. It is important to set the next goal, having achieved the previous one, to develop constantly and set your aims through to the finish.
Q.: Are these features innate or gained from experience?
A.: I think both factors played an important role in my character formation. I inherited the qualities of a strong purposeful person from my mother, a scientist and the only academician-musicologist in Azerbaijan, Zemfira Safarova. She always sets herself goals and achieves them. Meanwhile, creativity and qualities of an educator, I have from my father. My father always seeks to culturally enrich the society, instill good manners and intelligence in youth. My desire to teach the younger generation, to discover new things for them, to make their education interesting; all this is my father’s legacy in me. He enlightens by nature and all his works confirm it.
Q.: Your professional activity is connected with literature. Does it help you in managing the Book Center?
A.: In addition to writing, I have published 4 magazines, including the magazines of Azerbaijan Ministry of Culture, the diaspora, etc. I know all the peculiarities of managerial work. My experience in journalism and managing, certainly helps me in managing the Book Center.
Q.: Does your personal taste and preferences, influence the list of books in the center?
A.: I maintain a very careful approach to my book choices, from the very first order, since it was very important to form the basis of the Book Center. You choose books for yourself, but you also have to take into consideration the tastes of different aged readers whilst choosing genres. I separately selected every book based on adventure, fantasy, fiction, memoirs, etc. At the same time I tried to choose more educational books that would benefit the readers. We have many books of both classical and alternative literature on the shelves. Special attention is paid to new Azerbaijani authors. With time, we have learned the preferences of our audience. Now we try to bring a wide variety of books to satisfy the interests of all our customers.
Q.: You develop literary contacts between Azerbaijan with other countries and presented the international project ‘Karabakh Stories’ to the European public. What is the main mission of this project?
A.: The Karabakh Stories project has played an important role in explaining the true cause of the Karabakh conflict, through literature for more than 6 years. Germany, Great Britain, Russia, France, Switzerland and many other countries have heard of the Karabakh Stories. The books have been translated into different European languages. I would like to mention that foreigners are more interested in this project, and more people around the globe will be informed about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As long as this territorial conflict exists, the Karabakh Stories project will be tangible. Our goal is to convey the truth about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to many, through literature.
Q.: What does a writer’s talent consist of? Do you believe the beauty of writing can be learned?
A.: I think that talent is mainly a gift from God. I have never met a person who has learned writing skills. If God really marked them, he will break through and find his readers. Of course, the writing technique is not innate; these skills should be developed through writing and even more reading. Only someone who reads a lot can write well. It is important for an author to express their thoughts accurately, to make the readers feel and understand his message.
Q.: Which book will be commercially successful?
A.: I am deeply convinced that it is not the author who ensures the success of a book. You can write a brilliant piece and nobody will know about it except your loved ones. In the 21st century, the secret of the book success lies not in its content, but in its promotion. The authors of the world’s best-sellers are not Chekhov, Tolstoy, or Dostoevsky. Their popularity lies in a well-organized promotion campaign.
Q.: What is the main mission of every writer?
A.: First of all, a writer must be a citizen. He should write not for himself or self-satisfaction, but for the enlightenment of society. Nowadays, it is not necessary to write books, but instead, you can meet with your audience and share your thoughts through live communication. A good writer also encourages people for certain humanitarian projects; he can write articles, hold workshops, organize book-lovers meetings. Modern technology has provided writers with a wide range of opportunities for engaging the audience.
Q.: Tell us about your creative plans for the future.
A.: I dream of shooting a feature film based my own script. As a spectator, I want to watch high-quality Azerbaijani films at the cinema. Our rapidly developing country needs competitive films and I want to contribute to the creation of really good films and theater plays.