Reading list: Jean-Chat Tekgyozyan

Jean-Chat Tekgyozyan, fiction writer, essayist, playwright

Known for Fleeting City and SkinPain.

What would you write in your own obituary?

In my life, I have learned too many words to write an obituary. Sometimes I look back and find myself unintentionally writing obituaries with different words. There are only a few left in my vocabulary which are still alive. But rather, instead of words, there are more and more punctuation signs. My obituary would mainly consist of exclamation marks, sometimes interrupted by huge and unexpected question marks.

What, if not a writer?

Why do I love the arts? Because there are no long lasting professions in the arts. Someone can’t always be a writer or an artist. At some point, you expire. It is a point of no return when you don’t have anything to say, when you don’t have a profession anymore; that’s the point when everything becomes clear. At that point you open up your real self. I don’t know if I have ever been a writer or not, but I am not anymore. I am only maintaining a process. And that process, whether it is the creative writing or performing, either exists or not.

Do you read paper or electronic? One book at a time or simultaneously? Morning or night?

Texts are everywhere. I don’t choose any specific time of the day for reading, but each time of the day calls for a specific text. I read on the move and whatever my eyes can catch: a book, a magazine, a newspaper, an announcement, an ad, a lesson, a dictionary. Also, usually any kind of reading is accompanied by radio programs. Radio also has texts.

And, by the way, another nice place for reading is the tram.

What books are on your bedside table?

After the recent changes in my life, books in French. First, I had to read to improve my French. I also started to meet the francophone writers, not only between the lines of their works, but in real life, too. Coincidentally, as I was reading francophone texts, opportunities to meet the writer were suddenly popping up. This is a bit strange because France is not a small country and it’s far from normal to accidentally meet famous authors.

I still don’t have a bedside table, but in my shelf there is The Most Beautiful Book in the World,  (Odette Toulemonde et autres histoires) and The Sect of the Egoists (La Secte des égoïstes), Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Sweet Song (Chanson douce) by Leïla Slimani; and some of the non-francophone writers, like Peter Handke, his The Hour When We Knew Nothing of Each Other and poetry by Bob Dylan.

What’s the last great book you read?

I thought for a long time and decided to return to this question later.

15 minutes later…. Still no answer

Who is your favorite overlooked writer?

I don’t have a lot of favorites, especially in literature. Literary works are either colorful or colorless, sometimes they have one two or three colors. In the fast-moving circles of time, these colors make various, never repeating patterns. Nobody can really decide who is good or bad, overlooked or highly evaluated. Especially those literary critics who consider themselves smarter than the writers whose books they are writing about.

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

When a book finds you, it is a gift. I do believe that books find the readers more often than vice versa. The latest book that found me was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which books and authors have stuck with you most?

The tales of Brothers Grimm. I was reading these tales at the age of 3, and I think that’s when my brain got incurably poisoned by literature.