Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Tragedy Made Known

I was blown away by Chris Bohjalian's "The Sandcastle Girls". Prior to reading this novel I'd never heard of the Armenian genocide that took place in 1915-1916 under the Ottoman Empire.  The story is woven between 1915 Aleppo, Syria and 2012 Bronxville, New York.

In 1915 Elizabeth Endicott travels to Aleppo under the auspices of a Boston group called Friends of Armenia.  They are bringing aid to the Armenians displaced by the war.  There she meets Armen who is an Armenian engineer who has lost his family to the genocide.

The present day portion of the story surrounds Elizabeth's granddaughter, Laura, who only recently discovered that her grandparents had been witness to and part of this horrific event.  She is attempting to write their story.

Bohjalian does a tremendous job bringing this tragedy to light.  The horrors the Armenians endured at the hands of the Turks was made vivid in the retelling.  It was particularly chilling to me how the Germans, allies of the Turks, learned the most efficient ways to transport and dispose of unwanted citizens.

This is a must read for anyone that is interested in history and this time period in particular.  It is a masterful and heartbreaking story.

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