WATERTOWN, Mass. — Bestselling author Chris Bohjalian will discuss his eagerly-awaited 15th book, The Sandcastle Girls, an epic novel set against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, on the evening of Thursday, July 26, at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA).
Most of Bohjalian’s book take place in his native New England, but his latest, described as a sweeping histor- ical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, is set in Syria and New York. 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. The event 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 he will meet with Congressional leaders dur- ing the day and have a book signing at the Rayburn
House Office Building in the evening of August 1. Perhaps known best for his novel Midwives, a num- ber-one New York Times bestseller 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 Second World War 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 moth- er, Bohjalian says that three of his four Armenian great- grandparents died in the Genocide and First World War. 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 talk and reception will take place in ALMA’s Third Floor Gallery beginning at 7.30 p.m. The museum will be open on that day from 12 noon to 8 p.m. for those who may wish to visit the galleries or to 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 at 65 Main St.