Friday, April 24, 2015

Four Years in the Mountains of Kurdistan: An Armenian Boy's Memoir of Survival

by Aram Haigaz
Maiden Lane Press    2015
362 pages     Memoir
The Short List

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, when the Turks of the Ottoman Empire forcibly removed Armenian Christians from their villages. In all 1.5 million Armenians were killed. 

Yesterday, for the first time, a German president acknowledged Germany's role in the 1915 genocide. Turkey, on the other hand  protests any government that calls the killing a genocide. They say that Armenians died during fighting in a civil war in which they were aided by the Russians.

A memoir by Aram Haigaz, a survivor of that genocide, was recently published after having been translated from Armenian by his daughter Iris Chekenian. Haigaz wrote the memoir in Armenian in the 1970s. Aram was taken by the Turks as a boy of 15 and was convinced by his mother to convert to Islam in order to survive. He lived as a servant in a Turkish family for four years. The only member of the household staff who could read, he also was able to take care of the animals of the family. Very smart and articulate, Aram had the skills necessary to survive, and in the early 1920s was able to come to the United States where he lived until he died in 1986. He became an author in the Armenian language, and continued to tell the stories of his people. His first book, The Fall of the Aerie, is one of the only first-hand accounts of the genocide in his small village.

Lovingly translated, this is a masterful memoir of the inhumanity of the genocide that continues to haunt the world 100 years later. One reviewer calls the book "a richly detailed testimony to a young man's courage in the face of unspeakable horror."

Several events are planned in connection to the centenary, including events in Pasadena, the home of the largest Armenian community in the United States.
Here is a review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
A review in the EKurd Daily.


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