Orhan's Inheritance (Hardcover)

By Aline Ohanesian

Algonquin Books, 9781616203740, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

List Price: 25.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

They found him inside one of seventeen cauldrons in the courtyard, steeping in an indigo dye two shades darker than the summer sky. His arms and chin were propped over the copper edge, but the rest of Kemal Türkoglu, age ninety-three, had turned a pretty pale blue.

When Orhan’s brilliant and eccentric grandfather, who built a dynasty out of making kilim rugs, is found dead in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But his grandfather’s will raises more questions than it answers. Kemal has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in a retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan’s grandfather would have left their home to this woman rather than to his own family.

Intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There, over many meetings, he will unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards--the story that, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which Orhan’s family is built, the story that could unravel Orhan’s own future.

Moving between the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, Orhan's Inheritance is a story of passionate love, unspeakable horrors, incredible resilience, and the hidden stories that haunt a family.

“A remarkable debut from an important new voice . . . Beautiful and terrible and, finally, indelible.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America

“To take the tumultuous history of Turks and Armenians in the early part of the past century, to tell the stories of families and lovers from the small everyday moments of life to the terrible journeys of death, to make a novel so engrossing and keep us awake--that is an accomplishment, and Aline Ohanesian’s first novel is such a wonderful accomplishment.” —Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

“From its first startling image, Orhan’s Inheritance will seep under your skin and leave an indelible mark upon your heart. What lucky readers we are to inherit Aline Ohanesian’s gorgeous work.” —Gayle Brandeis, author of Delta Girls

“Readers who were moved by the work of Carol Edgarian, Mark Mustian, and Nancy Kricorian will appreciate the historical authenticity and passion that Aline Ohanesian brings to this story of the Armenian Genocide. Orhan’s Inheritance is heartfelt and sincere.”  —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls

“A harrowing tale of unimaginable sacrifice . . . A novel that delves into the darkest corners of human history and emerges with a tenuous sense of hope.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review


About the Author

Aline Ohanesian's great-grandmother was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. Her history was the kernel for the story that Ohanesian tells in her first novel, Orhan's Inheritance. Ohanesian was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction and Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. Born in Northridge, California, she lives and writes in San Juan Capistrano, California, with her husband and two young sons. Her website is www.alineohanesian.com.


Praise For Orhan's Inheritance

Orhan’s Inheritance is a book with a mission, giving a voice to history’s silent victims . . . Orhan’s Inheritance is itself a lament disguised as a romance, a narrative in which the reclamation of a family home, the weaves of carpets, even the scent of a handkerchief come to represent a private version of a much larger historical tragedy. ‘All of life, Orhan realizes, is a story within a story; how we choose to listen and which words we choose to speak makes all the difference.’ It is this realization that will finally be Orhan’s grandfather’s greatest legacy.” —New York Times Book Review

“Rich, tragic, compelling, and realized with deep care and insight.” —Elle

Orhan’s Inheritance illuminates human nature while portraying a devastating time in history . . . A remarkable debut novel that exhibits an impressive grasp of history as well as narrative intensity and vivid prose. It moves back and forth with confidence between the 1990s and 1915 . . . Her book is enriching on many levels, with a core theme common in literary fiction: ‘What matters is not what the world does to you, but how you respond.’ ” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“At turns both subtle and transcendent, Orhan’s Inheritance will speak to those familiar with this dark chapter of history, and will be equally appealing readers who want to linger quietly in unfamiliar places and hidden stories of love and family.” —Los Angeles Review of Books 

“Successful as a family novel, Orhan's Inheritance is equally successful at relaying the difficulty of bearing witness and of hearing that testimony, as well as the emotional and psychological consequences for the descendants of survivors and perpetrators alike.”Colorado Springs Independent

“[A] beautifully written book about a horrific era rendered readable by a supremely talented author.” The Book Reporter

“A beautifully written narrative, which was wise, mature, and cognizant of its making . . . Ohanesian’s novel challenges our expectations through a meticulously executed formula that simultaneously feeds and subverts paradigms of the genocide’s cultural narrative . . . a brave novel that offers a unique literary rendering of the genocide and its aftermath.” —Asbarez Armenian Daily

“[An] impressive debut novel . . . Such sorrow in Ohanesian’s hands is not a heavy burden for the reader. Through the beauty and humanity of her central characters, the story transcends suffering . . . ‘A white day sheds light; a dark day sheds darkness,’ Orhan tells Seda on his first visit. Ohanesian’s novel is that ‘white day.’ ” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Unforgettable . . . Drawing on the stories her Armenian great-grandmother told her, Ohanesian brings to life a painful, tragic history unfamiliar to most Americans.” —Library Journal, Editor’s Pick

“Ohanesian’s heartrending debut chronicles the painful odyssey of one family against the broader backdrop of the Armenian genocide . . . Ohanesian does a remarkable job of conveying the weight and the influence of time and place without excusing or excluding the human dimension that necessarily factors into the unfolding cataclysm.”Booklist

“A harrowing tale of unimaginable sacrifice . . . A novel that delves into the darkest corners of human history and emerges with a tenuous sense of hope.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A stunning exploration of how choosing to remember--and to forget--can shape an individual, a family and an entire people . . . Ohanesian moves seamlessly between the present day and Seda's guarded recollections of her history, to relay an emotional and at times horrific story of the Armenian genocide a century ago. Seda's story--the story of a struggle and the suppression of an entire people--is full of pain and heartbreak, but Orhan's Inheritance proves the power of storytelling to reveal beauty and truth in the most unexpected of places.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers

Orhan's Inheritance, explores the ripple effect a traumatic event can have over time, yet still strikes a hopeful tone for the future . . . As Orhan learns more about his grandfather's past, and his own personal connection to the genocide, his awareness expands. Hence why stories like this are so important: We shouldn't hide from the past, because then the past will repeat itself. What we can try to do is make amends, and learn from the past. This year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Armenian genocide, making this novel a timely commemoration.”Everyday Ebook

“Aline Ohanesian draws from her family’s own dark history to create a tender, powerful story of love and reclamation. Orhan’s Inheritance is a breathtaking and expansive work of historical fiction and proof that the past can sometimes rewrite the future.” —Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train

“To take the tumultuous history of Turks and Armenians in the early part of this century, and to tell the stories of families and lovers from the small everyday moments of life to the terrible journeys of death, to make a novel so engrossing and keep us awake--that is an accomplishment, and Aline Ohanesian's first novel is such a wonderful accomplishment. ” —Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

“An impressive debut . . . [Ohanesian’s] portrayal of this period of Turkish/Armenian history is spot-on, and most readers of historical fiction will enjoy the novel. Book groups in particular will find that its complex themes, centering on important topics such as memory and forgetting, what makes a family, and the desperate actions one may need to take to survive in adversity, will likely lend themselves to lively discussion.” —BookBrowse

“An irresistible debut novel about first love, ancient betrayal, secrets within secrets, missing parents, war crimes, and ambiguous morality . . . In this multigenerational page turner of an epic saga, Ohanesian bears witness to atrocities even as her characters’ descendants work towards redemption.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Readers who were moved by the work of Carol Edgarian, Mark Mustian, and Nancy Kricorian will appreciate the historical authenticity and passion that Aline Ohanesian brings to this story of the Armenian Genocide. Orhan’s Inheritance is heartfelt and sincere.” —Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls

“From its first startling image, Orhan's Inheritance will seep under your skin and leave an indelible mark upon your heart. What lucky readers we are to inherit Aline Ohanesian's gorgeous work.” —Gayle Brandeis, author of Delta Girls

Orhan's Inheritance is a remarkable debut from an important new voice. It tells us things we thought we knew and shows us we had no idea. Beautiful and terrible and, finally, indelible.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Queen of America


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Setting plays such a significant role in Orhan’s Inheritance. How do the two settings, Karod village in Turkey and the Ararat Home in Los Angeles, affect the characters?generic viagra price canada
  2. Why do you think Kemal dies the way he does? What is the symbolism of the vat of dye?generic viagra price canada
  3. Orhan’s early photography was so focused on abstraction that he failed to see the world around him clearly. How does Orhan’s early photography compare with his later work, when he takes up the camera again? In what way does he see the world differently? What role do photography and drawing play in the novel? What is the connection between photography and memory?generic viagra price canada
  4. Do you think words construct meaning differently than visual images do, whether drawn or photographed?generic viagra price canada
  5. Do you think Lucine’s mother, Mairig, is a bad or negligent mother? Why or why not?generic viagra price canada
  6. How are Orhan and Seda similar when it comes to their relationship with their pasts? What is Ani’s perspective on the past? What do you think these characters learn from one another?generic viagra price canada
  7. Lucine’s father, Hairig, defines strength as adaptability. How would you describe Lucine’s strength? What are the qualities that help her survive this ordeal?generic viagra price canada
  8. At what point does Seda stop speaking?Why do you think she makes this choice?generic viagra price canada
  9. Do your feelings about Fatma change in the course of the novel? If so, how?generic viagra price canada
  10. Why does Lucine feel that she and Kemal can never be together?generic viagra price canada
  11. There are many instances of individual and collective guilt in the story as exemplified in the war scenes with Kemal and his soldier friends. Do you think there’s such a thing as collective guilt? If so, is it easier to bear and what are its effects?generic viagra price canada
  12. How do Fatma’s parables illustrate or refute her attitude toward words?generic viagra price canada
  13. The novel makes a distinction between change, as symbolized by dyed wool, and transformation, as symbolized by the silkworm. What is the difference between them? Which characters do you think experienced true transformation?generic viagra price canada
  14. Once Orhan knows about his family’s and country’s history, how do you think he should respond? Do you think he’s done enough by the end of the novel?generic viagra price canada
  15. Much of the novel grapples with the power of words as well as their insufficiency. “There is only what is. What happened. The words come much later, corrupting everything with meaning” (page 305). How important are the words we use to describe someone or something? Why does it matter what Orhan calls Fatma or whether we call what happened in 1915 a genocide?generic viagra price canada


Coverage from NPR