Armenia: Sandcastle Girls

 

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.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”

One response to “Armenia: Sandcastle Girls

  1. I hadn’t hear of this book before, but after spending 6 weeks in Armenia last year, I’m really anxious to read it now! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

We Said Go Travel

We Said Go Travel