LOS ANGELES–As Congress gears up for another battle over passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, an Armenian couple in Los Angeles continues their life dream to publish English translations of memoirs of survivors written in the early decades after the Genocide. On Sunday, October 28, 2007, The Fatal Night, the second volume in the Genocide Library begun by Hagop and Knar Manjikian, was introduced at Avedissian Hall in Encino.
“When you read the book you realize it’s a gift,” said Mark Arax, author and longtime writer for the Los Angeles Times. “We need more of these.”
“I congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Knar Manjikian for their work in creating the Genocide series and for taking action,” said Aram Kaloustian of the Armenian Youth Federation. “By having The Fatal Night available in the English language, it will be used by English-speaking people throughout the world to learn of the Armenian Genocide.” He said reading the book is “to briefly feel what it could have been like to have been there, and to be certain that all of us never know.”
The Fatal Night is Mikayel Shamtanchian’s memoir about the night of April 24, 1915, when the Turks arrested more than 200 Armenian intellectuals, political leaders and educators and began their plan to exterminate the Armenian population within the Turkish borders. Shamtanchian was one of only a few to miraculously survive, and he recounts the horrors of the deaths of his compatriots.
“When considering the detailed information contained in Shamtanchian’s Fatal Night, it is impossible for the reader to question the validity of the Armenian Genocide and the organized and diabolic intent of the perpetrators,” says Kaloustian. Shamtanchian concludes that “the Turkish Genocide of the Armenia’s was technically a success, but a failure in essence.”
Those who witnessed death and survived came out tougher than ever. Herein lies the irrepressible vitality of a people. The fires of the catastrophe do not turn its life force to ashes. On the contrary, that life force becomes enriched with the grace and integrity of all the things that have outlived the inferno.
Arax spoke about the importance of the written word and about the legacy of writing he inherited from his ancestors. The Manjikians discovered nine of his paternal grandfather’s poems, written in Armenian, in Hairenik monthly issues dating to 1925-7 and gave them to Arax. His maternal grandfather, coincidentally, was the first Der Hayr at Holy Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church in Encino, on whose grounds the Avedissian Hall is located.
Master of Ceremony Nazaret Sadourian introduced Hagop and Knar Manjikian, who nurture the dream of publishing many more English-language translations of memoirs written immediately after the Genocide. The Manjikians’ goal is to educate Armenian youth and the English-speaking world about the Genocide. The third volume in the Genocide Library is, at present, being translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian, and will be released early in 2008. Passage through Hell, the first volume, sold out its first printing, and a second edition will soon be released.
On behalf of his wife, Knar, and himself, Hagop Manjikian thanked Armenian principals for buying the books for their school libraries and for generous donors who purchased quantities of the books to be distributed to public libraries. He said that one couple donated 60 copies of The Fatal Night to be sent to Armenia to be presented to foreign government officials visiting the country.
To order The Fatal Night, send $15 to H. and K. Manjikian, P.O. Box 2734, Toluca Lake, CA 91610-0734. (Passage through Hell is $18, which includes shipping.) The books also are available at the Sardarabad, Abril and Berj bookstores in Glendale, the Hairenik bookstore in Watertown, MA, and at the St. Vartan bookstore in New York. For further information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.