Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Former Soviet Union: The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
Provence: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, La charrette bleue by René Barjavel, Madame de Sévigné and Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp

Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia

I recently went twice to Armenia and I got interested by this fascinating country’s history. In addition, last year was the centenary of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people in 1915 at the end of the Ottoman Empire. I will present some of the books and movies I have read and watched about this topic.

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The Armenian Genocide Memorial, Yerevan

“Erevan”, the novel by French author Gilbert Sinoué (unfortunately not translated in English), is an excellent introduction to the first genocide of the 20th century. He is using historic facts and characters and ends up with a very lively, if somber, novel which makes a nice read. He is covering the entire period: starting with the first massacres at the end of the 19th century, the Armenian political movement and then in 1915, the targeted killings of the elite, the work camps for the men and the forced marches towards the Syrian desert for women and children. The book ends with the “Nemesis” operation during which Armenians tracked and killed throughout the world some of the Genocide’s organizers.

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During my first trip to Armenia, I read “The Sandcastle Girls” by Armenian-American novelist Chris Bohjalian. It’s a wonderful novel weaving the contemporary period on the East Coast with the Armenian tragedy in 1915, with a focus on Aleppo (currently in Syria). The city which was then part of the Ottoman Empire, served as endpoint for the death marches imposed on the Armenian people, before being parked in the desert to die. Elizabeth, a young Bostonian volunteering in an American mission meets and fall in love with Armen, an Armenian survivor who lost his wife and infant child. Two generations later, their grand-daughter, a middle-aged American novelist, reconnects almost by accident with her Armenian heritage, discovers the extent of the Armenian Genocide of which she knew almost nothing and eventually uncovers a long buried family secret.

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Ararat” the movie by director Atom Egoyan with Charles Aznavour and Christopher Plummer also includes many back and forth between 1915 (in particular the defense of the city of Van by the Armenians) and contemporary Canada. Moreover, the film explores the impact of memory and the difficulty to live as a survivor of such a tragedy through the historical character of Armenian painter Arshile Gorky. The movie is sometimes hard to follow because of the many interweaving subplots, but overall it is very interesting.

Writing that Turkey has a hard time recognizing the Armenian Genocide – estimated to have made 1,2 million victims about ¾ of the Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire- is an euphemism. Ohran Pamuk, the Turkish Nobel Laureate for Literature was threatened and indicted by the courts in his country for having admitted its existence. I was therefore interested by the movie “The Cut” by Fatih Akin a German director of Turkish origin. It is a very strong film, but more convincing in its first part describing the Genocide than in the final part in which a surviving father looks after his twin daughters across the world following the Armenian diaspora.

There is also a Turkish-Armenian co-production, “The Lost Birds” which has just been released. I couldn’t see it but it takes the point of view of children and seems interesting. If you have read other books or watched other movies about Armenia and the Armenian Genocide, thanks for sharing your recommendations.

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Yerevan, Republic’s Square

 

 

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