Beginning with the levity of a stand-up comedian, Chris Bohjalian spoke of his book tours; he commented, "The books about vampires got a lot of Americans reading and thinking again. . . . The good news is that there are still more public libraries in the United States than there are McDonald's!" The following is a partial record of Chris Bohjalian's talk at the Armenian Library and Museum of America on Thursday night, July 26, 2012, as Marash Girl remembers it.
My grandfather and grandmother . . . the little boy is my dad. I have this photo on my desk and I look at it every day. My grandfather always wore a suit -- the only time my father remembers him taking the suit jacket off was when my grandfather had to check the furnace! My grandparents knew they were genocide survivors but never talked about it. All of my great grandfather's generation were murdered. . . In 1993 I tried to write a novel about the Armenian Genocide -- it took me 1 year and 3 months -- but it was unsalvageable and I had to package it up and send the manuscript to the archives of my alma mater . . . [Chris Bohjalian never mentioned the name of his alma mater. Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College.]
Thus I began writing THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS, the narrator being the female version of me. In this very building -- the Armenian Library and Museum of America -- the narrator sees a photo -- a clue to what becomes a love story and a detective story, and it is the story of what happened to the Armenian people in 1915. This is the most important book I will ever write; it's the story I've lived a half century to tell.
|Chris Bohjalian inscribes and signs the title page of his latest novel, THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS.|