Taleen Voskuni on the evolution of the Armenian rom-com

"Many Armenians reached out to me and told me how seen the book had made them feel"

This post was written by Taleen Voskuni, the author of Lavash at First Sight.

Last year, I released Sorry, Bro, the first sapphic Armenian romance ever published. At its heart, the book is a queer coming out story—the main premise is that a woman who has passed for straight all her life falls deeply in love with another woman, and has to find a way to break the news to her conservative Armenian family. I knew that the coming out story was “old news” even in the freshly burgeoning market of sapphic fiction, but this was the book I had to write, because it was still so relevant in Armenian culture.

For Armenians, LGBTQ+ issues are still incredibly taboo, and last summer (of 2023) there was an anti-queer movement in Glendale, California with many Armenians spearheading the campaign. So for the first romcom I wrote, it felt relevant to include this dilemma: how do I reconcile my queerness with my Armenianness? Many Armenians reached out to me and told me how seen the book had made them feel and how similar their families were to Nareh’s. More often than not, their families did not accept their sexuality. I was glad I chose to center the book around coming out.


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But then? I had a new book to write! I felt I had explored the Armenian coming out narrative, so I had to think about what would be the next step. There was a line in Sorry, Bro where the protagonist thinks: “What if my mom had known her family and, like, hated them or something? A modern-day Capulet-Montague rivalry.

And that is what I decided to write for Lavash at First Sight. The conflict would revolve around the two women’s families hating each other, not around their sexuality. However, it still needed to be realistic. The vast majority of Armenian families are not going to respond to their children’s queerness with open arms and a rainbow cake.

I had both women already out to their parents, years back, and both sets of parents being initially uncomfortable with it, but coming to accept it, and deciding that loving their children was the most important thing of all, regardless of their sexuality. This set the stage for a lot more freedom in the book. Both women were liberated in that way, they didn’t need to shrink or apologize for being bisexual, and the result is that Lavash at First Sight is full of pride.

The story, instead, focuses on their sneaking around (the reverse trope of “fake-NOT-dating”), a fast-paced cooking competition, and the joy of Armenian food. I’m thankful that I was given the chance to tell these two Armenian stories, and I’m excited to see what evolution the Armenian romcom takes next.

Get your copy of Lavash at First Sight by Taleen Voskuni here.

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