Sometimes you stumble across something that is majestic. That’s what happened with “Farewell Aylis”, by Azeri novelist Akram Aylisli. Specifically, of this “Non-Traditional Novel”, the second short story – Stone Dreams. Stone Dreams is a story of an Azeri man who is assaulted in Baku after attempting to protect a group of Armenians during the Sumgait Pogroms in the early 1990s. And his deliriums and dreams as he passes away. About his town, Aylis, in Nakhchivan, a tiny enclave of Azerbaijan on the west side of Armenia beside Turkey. A place that, before the genocide 100 years ago, was a place where Azeris and Armenians lived together; and the tremendous destruction of Armenian property and heritage and lives by the Turks and their Beys during the genocide.
This book is special, because Aylisli is an Azeri Muslim and was Azerbaijan’s most important novelist. I say was, because after the publication of Stone Dreams Aylisli was stripped of his honors, his books were burned, and he was put under house arrest. His crime?? Empathy. Daring to make common cause in his imagination – in his literature – with the Armenian “enemy”. “Stone Dreams” bleeds, it is a tragic lament of a man who recognizes what hate has done to his society, and how while the stoking of that hate might be good for politics, it represents only lasting harm to the civilizational aspirations of his co-citizens.
Stone Dreams is an extraordinary short story — a novel to die for.