updated 9/28/2010 11:16:06 AM ET 2010-09-28T15:16:06

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 28, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the forthcoming publication of Journey to Virginland, a new novel by American author Armen Melikian, contemporary literature gains a highly original voice and an irrepressibly spirited work that helps expand the core assumptions of the novelistic enterprise.

In an age of increasing specialization, when much of contemporary literature has in turn become a stultified field of "boutique" works which cater to their own narrow niches of readership, Journey to Virginland establishes itself as a thinking person's novel that not only enchants with a ripping yarn, but frames its storytelling within a vigorous, far-reaching critique of our time's pivotal issues.

Meet Dog: the loutish, witty, well-read, and unapologetically flawed protagonist of Journey to Virginland, our guide in an exuberant quest for clarity and among the unlikeliest antiheroes to ever penetrate the annals of contemporary literature. Dog versus God. Dog versus the world. But also, fundamentally, with and for the world, in vehement search of the spiritual keys to human self-actualization, dignity of action, and fulfillment.

A modern-day Diogenes, Dog begins his odyssey of self-discovery in a fictionalized land, the Republic of Virginland, ground zero of the novel. From here Melikian blasts open a veritable trove of eye-popping circuits and pathways into contemporary literature, interspersing his protagonist's narrative with lucid commentaries on culture, religion, history, philosophy, and the mythological underpinnings which inform them.

Throughout Dog's travels and travails, as he takes the measure of a reconfigured world order in the shadows of global capital, cultural imperialism, the ambitions of organized religion, and gender politics, what gradually yet decidedly takes shape from the critical ardor is a wondrous vision of human transformation, in the process providing fresh definition to the regenerative potential of contemporary literature.

An excerpt from Dog's ruminations:

It was not naked prejudice with which I collided every hour, wondering why I should have been the butt of destiny's whim. This by itself was a mise en scene that impresses a question mark on Nietzsche's forehead: Who is the privileged who can become a superman? Who is the one who can afford culture?

What gives, yao, to vituperate against slave morality instead of beheading the creators of the objective conditions that give rise to slave morality? And how to achieve Schopenhauer's state of painlessness when the whole gamut of social existence has conspired against you from birth to death? The choices are literally between transcendence and self-destruction, even through revolt. And as long as there are oppressors in the world of men, the fake currency of saviors will be in high demand.

With its dazzling thematic scope and sheer storytelling prowess, Journey to Virginland is in a league with the landmark works of contemporary literature. Given its prescient vision of the shape of things to come, Melikian's novel has been compared to some of the masterpieces of contemporary literature, among them the politically explosive works of George Orwell.

In his review of Journey to Virginland, Paul McCarthy, a New York Times bestselling author and professor of literature at the University of Ulster, Ireland, has written: "In the best sense, I'm reminded of George Orwell's classics, and other authors of similar stature, though there is no true parallel possible with a novel as unique in concept and execution as Journey to Virginland."

Today much of contemporary literature is awash with formulaic works in which originality is for all intents and purposes a function of fashion, ultimately unable to deliver the transformative power which is at the heart of all great art. Melikian's work is a breathtaking exception to the trend, claiming its rightful place in the pantheon of contemporary literature.

Journey to Virginland is set for general release in late 2010. Currently limited copies of the novel, as part of a pre-publication run, are already available and can be purchased through www.JourneyToVirginland.com .

About the author: Armen Melikian holds a Master's degree in International Relations from the American University, Washington, DC. He has also studied mathematics at a number of colleges including Harvard. Eschewing a career in either politics or science, he has instead devoted himself to literature since the late 1990s. Journey to Virginland is his first novel. Melikian lives with his wife in Los Angeles.

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