Chris Bohjalian has crafted a powerful historical novel that depicts the Armenian Genocide. Although the author’s descriptions of abduction, torture, massacre, rape, starvation and deportation are immensely disturbing he also created a beautiful love story. I am so glad this author has shared the truths about this dark period in history as it needs to be better illuminated. Sadly, I am only aware of this horrendous history due to my Armenian friends. (Another strike against my public school education.) Just like other devastating periods in history, The Holocaust, the massacre of Cambodian’s by the Khmer Rouge or the Rwandan Genocide, if the horrors are not exposed, we cannot grow, learn and ensure they are never repeated. I am glad The Sandcastle Girls is a New York Times best seller and hence will get to the mainstream.
Be prepared, Bohjalian sets the book in two time frames, present and past. At times, I truly felt this was a family memoir rather then a fictional tale based on horrific facts. The author does a great job of fooling the reader to think this is actually his story. I had to keep reminding myself the author is a male while the narrator in the story is researching her grandparents' story.
Finally, I have to mention that Germany was an alley of Turkey during this period. Germany's pro-Turkish stance led to an official policy of "non-intervention" toward the Armenian genocide. Through further research, I learned Germany choose to cover up the genocide to minimize any suspicion of German involvement. Additionally, Germany embraced genocidal tactics toward the Armenians as well as policies that condoned it. Learning that this was Germany’s first genocide was a great surprise. (Good grief, how much genocide can one country take part in?) Turkey was trying to rid the Ottoman Empire of the Christian Armenians. Turks were mostly Muslim. I am again very surprised Germany, especially with their later history, aligned with Muslims, accepting and even honoring the elimination of Christian Armenians. I would think this would have been the complete opposite choice for Germany. The whole thing is so disturbing! (I had another choice word in mind.) If you have some thoughts and a deeper understanding of this turbulent history I'd love to hear from you. Please make a comment.My final parting thoughts are people’s intolerance of others is disgusting and what occurs due to hate makes me sick. Elimination of a race, culture, religion is inexcusable.