Chris Bohjalian's latest novel, The Sandcastle Girls
, was inspired by his family's Armenian heritage. Much of the plot takes place against the backdrop of the Ottoman Empire's systematic elimination of the Armenian Christian population, known by later generations as the Armenian Genocide (see backstory). In a quote from the book, the author contends:
1915 is the year of the Slaughter You Know Next to Nothing About. The anniversary of its commencement, its centennial, is nearing. If you are not Armenian, you probably know little about the deportations and the massacres: the death of a million and a half civilians. Meds Yeghern. The Great Catastrophe. It's not taught much in school, and it's not the sort of thing most of us read before going to bed.
The author does a masterful job of educating readers about the Armenian genocide...
Beyond the Book
The word "genocide" was coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish Polish legal scholar, although it didn't enter common usage until the Nuremberg trials (the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the Holocaust). The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines it as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group...