Ottawa – Following what can best be described as a successful whirlwind of a three-city multi-event Chris Bohjalian Canadian Book Tour, co-organised by the Armenian National Committee of Canada and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational & Cultural Society of Canada, New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian exclaimed “Canada rocks!”
“I had way too much fun in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal,” said Mr. Bohjalian, “everyone embraced this novel.” The bestselling and painstakingly researched novel Mr. Bohjalian was referring to is the NY Times bestseller and ‘book of the week’ by Oprah, ‘The Sandcastle Girls’, his 15th and most recent novel, a spellbinding tale that takes place during the Armenian Genocide and present day Bronxville, NY – a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date. The novel has received rave reviews by peers, by respected publications such as The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Vancouver Sun, and many online book review sites such as goodreads.com and kirkusreviews.com.
Three cities in four days is no surprise to an author of Mr. Bohjalian’s talent, whose stops on this tour were filled with presentations and book signing sessions in Toronto (October 22), Ottawa (October 23), and Montreal (October 24 and 25). All three city stops of the Tour featured well-attended book signings in Chapters Indigo Books stores, evening presentations of Mr. Bohjalian’s deeply moving and personal “We Are Still the Mountain” which captivated audiences numbering in the hundreds and honoured Mr. Bohjalian with standing ovations, and finally, informal talk sessions with appreciative Armenian high school students in Toronto and Montreal. Due to the incredibly high number of people wanting their books autographed by the author, the evening book signings took well over two hours to complete in both Toronto and Montreal.
“Mr. Bohjalian is a gifted novelist, an inspiring human being” said Mrs. Tamar Donabedian-Kuzuian, chairperson of Hamazkayin Canada, “As an organization whose mission is to maintain and promote the Armenian culture, Hamazkayin is proud to have been an integral part of organising this book tour with the ANCC.” Donabedian- Kuzuian thanked Chris Bohjalian “We feel a sense of profound gratitude. On behalf of every Khatoun, every Nevart, Armen, Shoushan, Karin, whom we have carried in our hearts and souls for over 95 years, thank you. Thank you, for salvaging them from the deserts of Der el Zor, from the mists of history and for bringing them to life so masterfully in ‘The Sandcastle Girls’.”
In conjunction with the Chris Bohjalian Book Tour, the Armenian National Committee of Canada launched a successful “Adopt-a-Book” campaign. The campaign was launched to collect funds in order to purchase and donate copies of ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ to Members of Parliament and Senators. ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ is a unique opportunity to present the Armenian Genocide to a vast number of parliamentarians from a literary and cultural perspective.
The Ottawa leg of the tour included a visit with His Excellency Armen Yeganian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to Canada. The evening presentation in Ottawa at the Chapters Rideau store was held under the patronage of Ambassador Yeganian, and attended by Mr. Harold Albrecht, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Canada Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group. Ambassador Yeganian underlined the universal value of ‘The Sandcastle Girls’. Emphasizing that works such as this are important to move young readers, through the human face of a story, so that history is not forgotten and to aid in the prevention of genocide. “This is not just the story of the Armenian Genocide,” stated Ambassador Yeganian, “It is a part of humanity’s story, one that we often forget, and thus see repeated still today.”
Contrasting a work of historical fiction with scientific research on the Armenian Genocide, Dr. Girair Basmadjian, president of the Armenian National Committee of Canada stated, “It is said that a painting is worth a thousand words. ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ paints an incredibly revealing and emotional panorama of the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Bohjalian’s words matter. His words, sentences, paragraphs, and novel all matter because they give us an opportunity to pause and ponder the fate that befell one and one-half million Armenians. We thank Mr. Bohjalian for having applied his incredible determination and talent towards writing such an epic novel. We thank him, because one and one-half million Armenian victims still matter.”
Both organisations’ presidents thanked all those who attended and supported the events, including those who were involved, both at the national and local levels, in making the Chris Bohjalian Canadian Book Tour a great success. They also thanked Chapters Indigo Books for their cooperation and contribution to the book tour.
“The Armenian National Committee of Canada, Hamazkayin – forces of nature,” concluded Mr. Bohjalian, “they are such a gift to the Armenian community of North America and I’m so happy to have been a part (of this book tour).”
The mandate of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of Canada is to promote all forms of art and encourage artists of Armenian heritage to create and excel in a variety of artistic fields. It leverages its resources, such as performance venues, patron base, programs, scheduled festivals, sponsor networks, in order to foster growth, to create new artistic works, to act as a bridge between Canadian and Armenian art and to promote the diversity and wealth of the mosaic that is the Canadian artistic landscape
The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) is the largest and the most influential Armenian-Canadian grassroots human rights organization in Canada. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Armenian-Canadian community on a broad range of issues.