WATERTOWN, Mass.—On Thurs., July 26, New York Times Best-Selling Author Chris Bohjalian will discuss his eagerly awaited 15th book, The Sandcastle Girls, an epic novel set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, at the Armenian Library & Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown.
The author of 14 books, most of them taking place in his native New England, Bohjalian has now written a novel whose narrative shifts between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915, and Bronxville, N.Y., in 2012. Described as a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, The Sandcastle Girls is the author’s most personal novel to date.
Bohjalian’ s book talk and reception is sponsored jointly by ALMA, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Young Professionals (AGBU YP) of Boston. It takes place at the beginning of a nationwide book tour that will take the author across the country, from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New England, New Jersey, and to Capitol Hill, where on Aug. 1 he will meet with Congressional leaders during the day and have a book signing at the Rayburn House Office Building in the evening.
Perhaps known best for his novel Midwives, a number-one New York Times best-seller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, Bohjalian has won a number of writing awards, and his work has been translated into more than 25 languages and has appeared in a variety of magazines. Three novels have become movies. Bohjalian has said that he has contemplated his latest novel since 1992, when he first “tried to make sense of the Armenian Genocide: a slaughter that most of the world knows next to nothing about.” Unsatisfied with this first attempt, he placed the draft aside and vowed that it would never see the light of day.
The narrative in his only other book not set in New England, Skeletons at the Feast, takes place in Poland and Germany during the last six months of the World War II and deals in part with a fictional family’s complicity in the Holocaust. As he toured on behalf of the book in 2008 and 2009, readers would ask him when he was going to write about the Armenian Genocide.
The son of an Armenian father and a Swedish mother, Bohjalian says that three of his four Armenian great-grandparents died in the genocide. As he tried again, this time successfully, to write a novel about the Armenian Genocide, he dug deeper into his family’s own personal diaspora. The fictional characters in The Sandcastle Girls are not his grandparents or great-grandparents, he says, “but the novel would not exist without their courage and charisma.”
The book talk and reception will take place in ALMA’s Third Floor Gallery beginning at 7.30 p.m. The public is invited to meet Bohjalian and hear in person his thoughts about the book and about his Armenian heritage. The Sandcastle Girls will be available for purchase and signing by the author. The museum will be open on that day from 12-8 p.m. for those who may wish to visit the galleries or view two current exhibits commemorating this year’s 500th anniversary of the first Armenian printed book.
The Armenian Library and Museum of America is located on 65 Main St. in Watertown. Parking is available in the municipal parking lot behind the museum and in adjacent areas. For directions and more information about the program and current exhibits on display, visit www.almainc.org.