Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past
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The first-born son of his generation, Peter Balakian grew up in a close, extended family, sheltered by 1950s and '60s New Jersey suburbia and immersed in an all-American boyhood defined by rock 'n' roll, adolescent pranks, and a passion for the New York Yankees that he shared with his beloved grandmother. But beneath this sunny world lay the dark specter of the trauma his family and ancestors had experienced--the Turkish government's extermination of more than a million Armenians in 1915, including many of Balakian's relatives, in the century's first genocide.
In elegant, moving prose, Black Dog of Fate charts Balakian's growth and personal awakening to the facts of his family's history and the horrifying aftermath of the Turkish government's continued campaign to cover up one of the worst crimes ever committed against humanity. In unearthing the secrets of a family's past and how they affect its present, Black Dog of Fate gives fresh meaning to the story of what it means to be an American.
or town or province of Turkey. Circling the pillar at the floor were glass cases containing bones spread on soil. Hundreds of bones: partial skulls, hip sockets, femurs, tibias, clavicles, eye sockets, teeth—you could do a whole anatomy lesson from the bones. Case by case. Bones and more bones. The martyrs at Holy Martyrs were here. I walked around the room taking in the objects in glass cases: Armenian clothing and textiles. Maps of historic Armenia, a bas-relief of a Madonna and Child in the
1990. Dadrian, Vahakn. Warrant for Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999. ————. German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide. Boston: Blue Crane Books, 1996. ————. The History of the Armenian Genocide. Providence, R.I., and Oxford, U.K.: Berghahn Books, 1995. ————. “The Armenian Genocide in Official Turkish Records.” Journal of Political and Military Sociology, vol. 22 no. 1, spring 1995, pp. 59-61. ————. “The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of
William, Pearl, Water. I ran through the blackened gravestones in the cemetery of Trinity Church, practiced pass patterns in an empty alley, got lost in niches of time and space. Hidden entrances, basement trapdoors, submerged steps off sidewalks, back alleys. I knew the network of freight elevators, too. I loved the heavy, black, accordion-like doors rolling open and shut with their clanking smoothness and the smell of Cuban cigars that lingered there. The boss of the mailroom was Jimmy
out of the harbor. Staring back at Constantinople as it faded into the Turkish blue and then out of sight. Knowing that the Armenians of Anatolia had been murdered or deported, that Anatolian Armenia no longer existed. So what. So what was a thousand shoes anyway? A DOCUMENTANT AND A PHOTOGRAPH ONE EVENING NOT LONG AFTER WE HAD RETURNED FROM Europe, Auntie Lu invited me over for some cheese kadayif she had bought at a Turkish bakery. I remember it was midsummer, because the sweetness of the
rising through my dress. I held myself against the wall until I could regain my balance and then I stumbled back the half mile to my house. Inside our courtyard I passed out. When I came to, my mother was sobbing and saying, “I wish I were blind so I would not see you like this.” My eyes were swollen shut, and my face a mass of wounds. My mother rubbed me with beeswax and covered my eyes with gauze soaked in hohdehd milk. In the morning she dipped a cloth in egg yolk and put it on my worst