Gohar’s summer book pick is The Hundred Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey by Dawn Anahid MacKeen. The book has helped Gohar reconnect with her heritage, and prepared her for her trip back to Armenia!
Gohar Chichian, Senior Manager of Development and Communications
The Hundred Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey by Dawn Anahid MacKeen
Why did you pick this book?
It was recommended by a friend. I’ve been binging a lot of mystery and fantasy books back to back, and wanted to switch up genres. The book is about the Armenian genocide and I am reading a bunch of books by Armenian authors to reconnect with my roots before my trip to Armenia in August. It’s very important to me to know my history and heritage.
What is your favorite quote from this book? Why?
“My mother’s surviving aunts and uncles lived in Turkey, France, and the United States – something I had previously thought was a little glamorous. After learning more about my family history, I found it heartbreaking. Entire families had been lost or severed from one another. Stateless, some of them drifting like embers after a fire, the rest just ashes.”
“All I knew of him was his struggle, his pain. Somehow, I had reduced him to one dimension: he was a survivor. I hadn’t thought of him – or anyone else who endured a genocide – as having a personality, as being funny and knocking back stiff drinks with pals. That’s what a holocaust does – it erases.”
These two passages really struck a chord with me. Growing up in the US, I have always been fascinated by how many Armenians live out of the country – families and friends scattered across the world because of our history. I also appreciated the humanization of the genocide victims – learning who they were as people before their cultural and religious identity became the only thing they were identified by and then targeted for. Every Armenian family has a genocide story, and we are here because some of our ancestors survived. The Armenian diaspora is huge and we all have different stories and experiences – but we survived.
What is your favorite memory of summer reading growing up – do you have an anecdote to share?
Growing up, I was constantly making trips to the library. I have many memories of sitting outside, a pile of books larger than me, and letting myself fall into new and mysterious worlds. I love the feeling of sunlight on my skin, the breeze stirring the grass, and with my mind taking in new characters, quests, and ideas. Reading outdoors is one of my favorite things to do.
What does literacy mean to you – why is it important?
Literacy is incredibly important to me. Reading and access to books has defined my passions – a love for writing, fantasy, history, magic, and so much more. I wouldn’t be who I am without books.
As the summer heats up, we’ve been busy reading – check out our staff picks:
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