Garin Hovannisian on book tour for "Family of Shadows"

by J Chekijian

Published: Saturday October 09, 2010

Garin Hovannisian. J. Chekijian

New York - Garin Hovannisian calls the writing of the newly-published story of his family a "soul-draining experience".

But the approximately 40 mostly-youthful faces in the crowd of his book signing at the Borders bookseller on Park Avenue on September 28 were treated to anything but, as the young author exhibited an intriguing intensity while reading excerpts of Family of Shadows: A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian-American Dream (HarperCollins, New York).

He also took questions and signed every book in his signature fashion: a simple drawing in black marker of Medz Masis, Poker Masis and the sun rising between them.

Garin, the son of former Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian, told the crowd that he was proud that he was able to encapsulate "a complete history of Armenia, an American dream story and a family history of great rebellion" in one book, his first long-form non-fiction effort - though hardly his first published work. The Fulbright Fellowship winner has also written about the Genocide for the Los Angeles Times, as well as articles for Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and Ararat.

Garin, wearing a grey blazer and grasping the podium with both arms outstretched, told the New York crowd that he did not seek out other published Armenian family stories while writing Family of Shadows, so as not to hamper his desire for originality ("In fact, I distanced myself from that literature"). And he said he wants to maintain that original voice; he is not locked into a multi-book deal with his publisher, and he may next explore the world of fiction-writing ("I may have something cooking").

Perhaps the energy of youth is what fuels his activities - not yet 25, he has gone from coast to coast to bring the story of Family of Shadows to the public, and the New York book signing was Garin's fifth - in two weeks. From New York, it is off to Belmont, MA on September 30 and then a Washington D. C. Borders on October 5 ("most of them are hosted by Armenian organizations", he says). From there back to New York and then again to California.

To get his multi-generational saga as much exposure as he can, Garin said he will continue to work with the Armenian community as his "foundational audience" in supporting Family of Shadows while also embracing the American media. To learn more, go to familyofshadows.com.

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Maria Mehranian.

Calendar of Events

Maria Mehranian will speak on California's high speed rail on October 23 in Pasadena; for details about this and other upcoming Armenian happenings in America, consult the Calendar of Events.