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, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and 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. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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