About the arts and ideas - on my novels and literature, music, and art

A new book about Beethoven gathers together (and completely rewrites and supplements) my blog posts on Beethoven into a short introduction to the composer, Ways of Hearing Beethoven, which I hope to see published. My novel The Fall of the Berlin Wall, completed a year ago, is about musicians and particularly the intense, irrepressible daughter of the legendary pianist featured in my previous novel Hungry Generations, now fifteen years after those events. Five years ago, my 2015 novel, The Ash Tree, was published by West of West Books in conjunction with the April 24, 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide; it's about an Armenian-American family and the sweep of their history in the twentieth century - particularly from the points of view of two women in the family.
There are three other novels of mine, which I would love to see published. One is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962. Another is Hungry Generations, about a young composer's friendship in L.A. with the family of a virtuoso pianist, published on demand by iUniverse, which I think would be of value to a conventional publisher. A Burnt Offering - a fable (a full rewriting and expansion of my earlier Acts of Terror and Contrition - a nuclear fable) is my political novella about Israel and its reactions to the possibility of a war with Iran (with the fear that it will be a nuclear war).
[My blog posts are, of course, copyrighted.]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Comment on the Armenian Genocide in The New York Review of Books

   In the December 9th issue of The New York Review of Books, the brilliant historian Max Hasting writes an essay entitled "The Turkish-German Jihad" in which he comments on the Armenian Genocide as follows: "One of Berlin's most egregious mistakes was its decision dramatically to accelerate investment and effort in the Baghdad railway in the midst of the struggle [of World War One]. In April 1915, an Armenian uprising against the Turks in eastern Anatolia - possibly assisted by the Russians - prompted ghastly reprisals, wholesale deportations of the Armenian people to Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotmia, and deaths variously estimated between 500,000 and two million."
   Hastings' operative phrase - "prompted ghastly reprisals" - neglects to acknowledge the role of racism in the slaughter and deportations of 1915. The genocide of Armenians was an act of racial cleansing, the tragic and horrifying culmination of two decades of racially-motivated assaults on Armenians, intent on destroying this Christian minority in Turkey.
   Hastings goes on to write that the Germans "furiously protested" on grouds that were "not humanitarian but brutally pragmatic...The Turks proved indifferent to German pleas: they were overwhelmingly preoccupied with removing a perceived strategic threat to their lines of communication with Syria and Arabia."
   Again, Hastings' key phrase - "removing a perceived strategic threat to their lines of communication" - fails to recognize the racial and religious prejudice at the core of Turkish "preoccupations," not to mention the massive - perhaps 'total' is the word - dimensions of this genocide, which began with the systematic arrest and the summary hanging or deportation of scores of Armenian community leaders in Istanbul (far removed from the railway to "Syria and Arabia") on April 24, 1915 and ended with the expunging of Armenians from Turkish life.
   While Hastings writes of the Turks' "attitude presaging that of some of Hitler's lieutenants toward the slaughter of the Jews almost thirty years later," even this characteristically understated assessment is antiseptic and again fails to find the words to acknowledge the disease of genocidal "racial cleansing" which afflicted Turkey and Germany in these two periods. It is unfortunate to encounter such a blinkered rendering of the historical record in Mr. Hastings' usually excellent writing, let alone in a publication and intellectual forum as ambitious as The Review.
N.B.: A novel of mine about the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide was published in 2015, the centenary of the Genocide. Its title is "The Ash Tree" and it portrays the lives of the family of a survivor, over half a century in America. A record of my reading the first chapter is on YouTube at  https://youtu.be/kkU5Pyx4BM8