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Words - The Most Powerful Weapon!

Chingiz Abdullayev’s fictions interwoven with reality: true events and facts from his former profession as a special agent enrich his plots with additional dynamics and a sharpness that defines his recognizable writing style. The best-selling author, Chingiz Abdullayev, is an icon for young people across many countries. While many other venerable writers cannot say the same, the halls that host his lectures and master classes are always packed. Chingiz Abdullayev, a people's writer and a public figure, shares with us his ideas about modern democracy, the future of Karabakh, and the power of speech in current realities.

Talent is always a challenge. How did you stand out at school, at the university, when you started writing?
Creativity is the desire to conquer the finite nature of life. In my school and university years, I was always an editor of student newspapers. Some of my friends still keep my notes.

Who from international or Azerbaijani writers had an inspiring influence on you and encouraged you to become a writer?
Mammad Said Ordubadi, Sabit Rahman, Anar. From the international writers: Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway. When I was young, I enjoyed reading "Rider in the Night" by Natig Rasulzadeh.

How successful is the promotion of rich Azerbaijani literature in the world? What does the Union of writers do in that regard?
Unfortunately, the Union of Writers is the only organization that promotes our literature. There is no one else!

Which of your countless awards is particularly dear to you, and which are the most emotional ones?
Perhaps, the most memorable is the "Commonwealth Star" award. I received it after it had been awarded to the esteemed Mehriban Aliyeva, Tahir Salahov, and Omar Eldarov. I was incredibly proud to share this honour with them.

How do your children react to the fact that their dad is quite an extraordinary and prominent person? Did it influence their achievements and personalities?
The kids love me as a dad, and that's enough! I don't think they consider me someone special or famous, for that matter. We have no such reverence in our house at all, but their achievements certainly make me happy.

They surpassed me long ago. They say that happiness is good health and a bad memory. What is "happiness" in your case?
Happiness is when you have loved ones around you, and everyone is healthy and alive. It is when you do what you love to do.

We know that you have travelled the world a lot. Can you remember your most vivid meetings with the most interesting people?
Then we will have to steal your entire magazine for several years to do that! There were a lot of incredible and fascinating gatherings. Perhaps, the most memorable occurred in St. Petersburg in 2000, which hosted the International Writers' Forum. One hundred and forty of the world's best writers gathered in Smolny: five Nobel laureates, winners of the Pulitzer and Goncourt prizes. I recall the guide started speaking ill about the Bolsheviks, and everyone exploded with anger. It turned out that almost all of the writers gathered were communists and socialists.

Where do you find inspiration for new novels?
In life itself.

Does a writer have to take part in public life? Do you think a poet is still "more than a poet" today?
Probably, though, not necessarily. However, if you are the Secretary of the Union of Writers and the President of the PEN club (an association of writers), you have to participate in the public life of your people.

Which of the stars of the writing world have you ever met?
It is impossible to list them all. Sergey Mikhalkov, Yuri Bondarev, Chingiz Aitmatov, the Vayner brothers, Yulian Semyonov, Orhan Pamuk, Jose Saramago, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Sela, Umberto Eco among others.

You need to be incredibly productive to write 201 (!) novels. After all, you are not only a writer, you are also the acting Secretary of the Union of Writers, and a public figure, who heads about 20 organizations at the same time. In addition, you’re an honourary Ambassador of Interpol and a media personality. Any tips on how you can "stretch" the time and fit everything in 24 hours?
No advice is needed. The one who wants to work is working and is managing everything on time. Ones who do not want to do so, merely look for excuses to justify their laziness.

What helps you relax and recover?
Smart books, travel, and beautiful women!

When people hear the phrase "there is such a nation, the people of Baku", some understand what is being said, and young people are sometimes offended. Can you explain to the youth who or what is the core of this phrase?
Being Bakuvian is a state of mind. This person might come from Ganja, Sheki, Nakhchivan, and other cities. This is a man of high culture and courtesy!

Erich Maria Remarque wrote: "The strongest feeling is a disappointment." Do you agree with him?
No, I don’t think the strongest feeling is a disappointment. The most powerful feeling is love.

They say that with age, even an atheist comes to God. In your book "on the side of God" there is a lot of discussion on this topic. Are you religious?
I am an agnostic and believe that the world is unknowable, inaccessible to human understanding. A universe without time or boundaries is just like God! By the way, agnostics may be the most devoutly believing people on our planet!

Are you into sports a lot?
I am a master of sports in shooting. I was boxing in the past, but my nose was broken during one of the training sessions...

Would you travel into space if you could?
I think so. Even though I'm afraid of planes, I fly 40-50 times a year. I found the "antidote." I usually do not drink, but on the plane, after a drink I feel good, after two hundred grams – very good, and after three hundred – "I fly next to the plane"!

Humanity changes over time and many concepts take on a different meaning. In your opinion, as a lawyer, is modern democracy developing in the right way?
No. Democracy is not developing at all, and I am afraid that all nations will soon be convinced of this.

Handful of people knew about our country 20 years ago. To what extent Azerbaijan is known to the world today?
I would not say that it is the most recognizable country, but the changes over time have been quite substantial.

Azerbaijan definitely won on the Karabakh battlefield. Do you think that on the ideological front we managed to break through the defense, which had been taken up by the Armenia-engaged media?
Definitely. And our esteemed President played the major role in this. Our well-educated experts who spoke foreign languages, perfect Russian and English, also had an impact.

As President of the PEN club, could you convey the truth about the events in Azerbaijan to the media, Nobel laureates, famous international writers and all those who can influence public opinion?
I've been doing this all my life.

Since the beginning of the second Karabakh war on September 27, 2020, you were invited to several Russian political talk shows. Do you think you managed to convey Azerbaijan's position to the audience?
I was on Solovyov's program twice, and in a few other TV shows on various Russian channels. Perhaps, I am invited by the Russian networks due to being quite well-known in Russia: my readership spreads from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, as stated by the Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mikhail Bocharnikov. On the Russian programs, there were attempts to interrupt me, confuse or stop me, but since I am fluent in Russian and I am a professional lawyer, plus a psychologist who graduated with honours, I said everything I had to say. I understand how difficult it can be for our people to withstand such pressure. I work in the Union of Writers, with two thousand geniuses, where every word has to be judged before it is articulated. At the same time, in this setting, you can’t give in during a verbal fight. I was approached by many experts after the broadcast, who mentioned having learned a lot of new information for the first time.

Your father is from Karabakh. What does this region symbolize for you? What place does it hold in the hearts of your children?
Karabakh is our native land, where we should always be able return to.

Karabakh is an integral part of every Azerbaijani's soul. What is the most important thing that foreign readership of Nargis should know about Karabakh?
That Azerbaijan cannot exist without Karabakh. This is the heart of our country.

There are thoughts that have turned out to be prophetic over the years in your seemingly realistic novels. Can you guess what the future of Nagorno-Karabakh will be?