Radio Armenia

With Sona Hakopian

This book originates from a subgenre of Soviet dissident anecdotes known as “Radio Armenia,” which articulate the failure of communist utopias in the format of a Q&A radio program. Sona Hakopian, my mother, trained as a linguistics scholar in the final decade preceding the collapse of the USSR, before immigrating to the US. We orally translated a selection of these anecdotes back and forth between Armenian, Russian, and English. All grammatical and semantic irregularities were preserved as the products of simultaneously spoken translation. The unedited audio recording of our conversation is transcribed here in one voice, without indication of the individual speaker who issued any given remark.

From Radio Armenia:

This is Radio Armenia. Our listeners asked us, what is the chaos? Can you describe the chaos? We are answering: no, we cannot comment on our national economy.

This is Radio Armenia. Our listeners asked us, why we are not rushing to send a person to, Soviet resident, to moon, to the moon. We are answering, because we are afraid he will not come back from there.

This is Radio Armenia. Our listeners asked us, is it true that communism is already so nearby that you can see it on the horizon, near the horizon. And if it’s true, what is a horizon, where is that horizon, what is a horizon in general? We are answering, horizon is that imaginary line, which always goes further when you are trying to come near.