'The Sandcastle Girls' Author In Town For Kickoff Events For One Book, One San Diego
30 years before the Holocaust another genocide occurred when the government of the gentleman Empire systematically exterminated 1.5 million Armenians. This tragic event, that happened over 100 years ago, has only recently been fully acknowledged. Our guest, Chris Bohjalian, the grandson of Armenians who died in the genocide and his novel, The Sandcastle Girls, the current one book one San Diego selection. Thank you for joining us.It's a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.This is your 14th book and it relates to your own tragic family history. Has it been working in your mind for a while? It must have been very difficult to right.Some books have longer gestation periods than others. The Sandcastle Girls is not the first time I tried to right a novel about the Armenian genocide. I tried in 1993-1994. I had an entire novel and when I finished reading it, I realized it was a Train Wreck, utterly unpublishable. More about the time the remarkable novel of the Armenian genocide rise of the Euphrates. I remember thinking to myself why does anyone need my take on this story when we half the other work -- have the other work. I sent the manuscript to my alma mater where my papers are archived and you can read it there if you are a scholar or masochist, but I would discourage it. It is a bad idea. I tried again in 2010, for Friday of reasons. The principal one is this. I was older, I was wiser, I knew more about how to approach this material and I understood this fundamental difference. When I wrote the novel in 1990, I did not take into account the fact that none of my readers could find Armenia on the map. I needed to approach the material very differently with an almost educational component.Give us a synopsis of the book. How did you decide to tell the story?About 1.5 million dead in the desert and I always loved big, sweeping, epic love stories. Such as the English patient. So, I decided this would be a love story set in the midst of the Armenian genocide. Since I was writing for people who knew nothing about Armenian history or the Armenian genocide, I really stacked the deck by making sure one of the lovers is an American girl. Elizabeth Holyoke, Endicott class of 1915 who ventures into the heart of the Armenian genocide, into Aleppo, Syria, in 1915. That she finds Dantes Inferno but she also finds the man she will fall in love with an Armenian engineer. So the novel goes back and forth between 1915 and the Armenian genocide and the present. Queen Elizabeth a granddaughter a female stand-in for me I talked to her readers specifically here is what happened. Here is this cataclysmic, unacknowledged and then go back to 1915.The 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide was 2015. Here we are a couple of years later. Why is it so important now 100 years later telling the story?Direct links between the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing fields, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur. We as a species seem to always find it within ourselves to hate the other. To hate the minority. Goodness gracious look at this country right now. Anti- immigrants your in some quarters. The fact is by a descendant of survivors of the Armenian genocide and I love to tell people that my grandparents are Middle Eastern immigrants. Refugees. Even in isolationist America in the 1920s, we welcomed at least 70-75,000 survivors of the Armenian genocide. Which is why today there are thriving, wonderful Armenian communities in California, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts. Why do you think it is people don't remember the Armenian genocide in the way that they do remember the Holocaust?As set in one point at the prologue how to come up at 59 people with nobody knowing? You do in the desert. There are other vastly, more relevant geopolitical reasons. First of all, there is the rise of the Soviet Union. And a fledgling nationstate of Armenia was completely consumed by the as is our Director was the Great Depression. There was the rise of Nazi Germany and in 1923 and 1924, the second postwar Turkish government. That began with Stalin like fanaticism to rewrite history. Suddenly the architects of the Armenian genocide, the Young Turks went from war criminals in 1990 two war heroes. Boulevards and schools are named after the Young Turks. And the news cycle moved on, that is now. In 1919 the first postwar Turkish government can -- convicted a mere year would pass when Adolf Hitler famously what command his officers 11 days before unleashing on Poland. Merciless. Of drill who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?San Diego has always aim to bring the community together. What you hope the San Diego community gets from reading this book start first of all I so honored. It is such a privilege to have The Sandcastle Girls selected. I've seen my books selected but not as ambitious and brilliantly put together as one big San Diego. My deepest thanks to KPBS in the San Diego Public Library. Is such a gift. I love it when an entire community is talking about a book. The fact is one city reads like this reminds us is something we try to teach our children and grandchildren all the time and that is reading is meant to be fun and cable of evoking the same conversational enthusiasm as movies, music, stage plays and even the San Diego Padres. If we only give the notion a chance.I like to thank you so much for joining us.A pleasure. Thank you, Alison.
"The Sandcastle Girls" is a multi-generational tale that spans nearly 100 years and focuses on the Armenian Genocide.
The novel by Chris Bohjalian is the 2017 One Book, One San Diego selection. The KPBS-led community book project aims to bring San Diegans together by reading and discussing the same book.
Bohjalian is in San Diego for the One Book, One San Diego kickoff events. Tuesday at 7 p.m. he will be speaking at the California Center for the Arts: Escondido. To RSVP visit this page.
Bohjalian joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss "The Sandcastle Girls" and what he hopes the community takes away from it.