Chris Bohjalian’s novels have always intrigued me. His topics challenge, educate and encourage us to take action. Nearly one hundred years after the “Slaughter You Know Next to Nothing About,” his latest novel, The Sandcastle Girls (Vintage Contemporaries)
, inspires me to wonder what should be done two years from today, April 24, 2015, to appropriately recognize what happened.
Early in the book we learn that “1915 is the Year of the Slaughter You Know Next to Nothing About. If you are not Armenian, you probably know little about the deportations and the massacres: the death of a million and a half civilians. Meds Yedhern. The Great Catastrophe.” One of the main characters, Armen tells Helmut, “Knowing is always better than not knowing,” he is speaking of his wife and child and if they are still alive or not. But I believe he is also informing all of us that we must acknowledge what has happened.
I learned that “the phrase ‘starving Armenians’ was originally coined by Clara Barton. The Slaughter You Know Next to Nothing About was actually common knowledge among some Americans and Europeans while it was occurring.” I found that surprising but “during the Great Catastrophe of 1915-1916, The New York Times published 145 stories about the atrocities and the massacres.”
Bohjalian’s narrator tells us: “History does matter. There is a line connecting the Armenians and the Jews and the Cambodians and the Serbs and the Rwandans. There are obviously more, but, really how much genocide can one sentence take?” I agree with the Jewish World Watch that we must not stand idly by, and I want to recognize his story and all it represents on this day, April 24.
We learn in the narrative that “labeling the slaughter of 1915 genocide can land a Turkish citizen in jai and get a Turkish Armenian journalist killed.” Today, “the centennial of the Armenian genocide is nearing. April 24, 2015, marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of the round up of the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople, most of whom were eventually executed. It was the start of the most nightmarish eight years of Armenian history.”
This tale based on the loss of life, freedom and home for so many inspires me to invite you to join our Independence Travel Writing Contest and share your stories of a place where you feel free or found freedom. Join We Said Go Travel in creating a global community of writers and travelers who share their travels, inspirations and enhanced understanding of our planet. Our Independence Travel Writing Contest begins May 11 and closes July 4, American Independence Day.
Chris Bohjalian is the author of fifteen books including New York Times Bestsellers, The Double Bind, The Night Strangers and Skeletons at the Feast. His novel, Midwives (Oprah’s Book Club)
, was a #1 NYT Bestseller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives and Past the Bleachers).
What do you think about Freedom? Today is the last day to vote in our Vagabond Choice Award on Facebook for our Inspiration Travel Writing contest. Get ready for our Independence Travel Writing Contest which begins May 11 and has One Thousand United States Dollars in Cash Prizes.