Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient
Fear of Large and Small Nations, The
Tadem Press

Fear of Large and Small Nations, The

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By Nancy Agabian

In Nancy Agabian’s The Fear of Large and Small Nations, feminist writer and teacher Natalee—aka Na—flees the conservative fearmongering of George W. Bush’s America to reclaim her cultural roots in post-Soviet Armenia. As she contends with rigid gender roles and rampant homophobia, learning the language when her linguistic roots in the Ottoman Empire have all but disappeared, and centering her identity as a bisexual Armenian American woman amid her own secret desire for love, Na is soon left with more questions than answers about where her fractured self belongs in the world.

When she falls for Seyran, a much-younger bisexual punk rocker who seems to value her for who she is, it comes as a relief: in a culture where marriage is seen as a source of protection for women, Na has the satisfaction of subverting societal expectations by shielding Seyran from conscription and, after marrying and moving to New York together, deportation. But when Seyran reveals an abusive side, Na becomes trapped in a dangerous codependent web, complicated by intergenerational trauma, political ideals, and, above all, love. To leave him, she will have to choose herself—whoever that is.

Written in gripping short stories interspersed with intimate journal entries and blog posts, the fragmented narrative reveals what is lost in the tightrope journey between cultures ravaged by violence and colonialism—and what is gained when one woman seizes control of her story, pulsating in its many shades and realities, daring to be witnessed.

Nauset Press (2023)