LA CRESCENTA–The Western Prelacy will host a presentation of the recently-published book “Resurrection with Cane and Shoe” by Prof. Harut Barsamian at the Prelacy’s “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall on Sunday, May 3, at 4 p.m. All proceeds from book sales will benefit the “Harut Barsamian Disabled Armenian Students Scholarship Fund” which the author has established under the auspices of the Western Prelacy.
Below is a review of the book, which was published in February.
“Resurrection with Cane and Shoe”
Author: Professor Harut Barsamian
In February of 2009, Professor Harut Barsamian released his memoirs, which captivates readers from the very first pages. The English language book chronicles Harut Barsamian’s life from his birth in Aleppo to his move to Beirut where a serious accident would leave him disabled, with his right leg left shorter than the left. At a young age, he moved once again with his family, this time to Soviet Armenia, where he lived for two decades under the oppressive Communist regime until he finally settled in the United States where he underwent a “resurrection,” becoming a sought after researcher and academician in electrical engineering and Computer Science.
The title of the book, Resurrection with Cane and Shoe, is a reference to his journey through life with his custom orthopedic shoe and cane which, rather than leaving him feeling defeated, spurred him on and became the least of the challenges he would face and overcome throughout his life.
The book is unique in that it captures the lives of an entire generation and though it reads like a novel, the facts are indelibly and poignantly real if at times stranger than fiction.
A riveting part of the book documents life under a Communist regime, and though many volumes have been written on this subject, both in Armenian and other languages, here we have the unique perspective of an individual who has lived both in the Diaspora and in Armenia in times of good and bad and provides us with a first hand account.
In subsequent chapters, the author fondly recalls his childhood in Aleppo and Beirut and recounts the life of his family, which echoes the untold stories of many others in his generation. His grandmother survived the Genocide, as did his father Sahag who went on to become a skilled artisan. Like thousands of other Armenians, the Barsamians felt the call of their homeland and despite numerous warnings, Sahag Barsamian with his wife, mother, and four children repatriated to Armenia. From the instant they set foot in the Soviet Union, the harsh realities of the regime became apparent when they were robbed of some of their belongings upon their arrival.
After the family settled in Yerevan, as repatriates and survivors of the Genocide they lived a relatively good life, however this was during the dictatorship of Stalin and things soon took a drastic turn for the worst when the author’s father was arrested and exiled to Siberia for unfounded suspicions by the regime. Sahag spent five years in Siberia and was only released and returned to his family upon the death of Stalin.
A few years later, the author underwent the same fate as his father, for similarly outrageous and unfounded suspicions, when he travelled to Moscow to further his education and with the hopes of finding treatment for his leg. After spending eight months in exile in Siberia he returned to his family who, at this point, began to consider a move out of the communist “paradise.” With the help of family members who had settled in the United States following the Genocide, the author, along with his mother and three siblings (his father and grandmother had already passed away), immigrated to America.
The last part of the book documents the rebirth of the author in America and his career successes, including his recruitment by major computer technology companies and his eventual foray into the field of research and education where he spent twenty-five years as a University of California professor. He experiences a resurrection intellectually, physically, and financially, however life is not entirely rosy as he continues to experience low points such as the unexpected loss of his brother.
What we have provided here is a brief synopsis of the book; however, one must read the book to fully comprehend the remarkable circumstances in which the author has lived his life and what he has overcome to get to where he is today. Moreover, the book narrates the experiences of an entire generation that fell victim to the intolerable regime of the Soviet Union and its inhuman treatments of its citizens particularly in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Overall, the book reads effortlessly with the jovial nature of the author coming through even in his darkest hours and on almost every single page.