Passage to Ararat

FSG Classics

Michael J. Arlen; Introduction by Geoffrey Wolff

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

312 Pages



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Winner of the National Book Award

In Passage to Ararat, Michael J. Arlen goes beyond the portrait of his father, the famous Anglo-Armenian novelist of the 1920s, that he created in Exiles to try to discover what his father had tried to forget: Armenia—and what it meant to be an Armenian, a descendant of a proud people whom conquerors from Darius the Great up to the Turks of the early twentieth century had tried to exterminate.

Passage to Ararat is a true story with the drama and resonance of a novel, marked by humor, sadness, characterizations of Armenians (both in Soviet Armenia and in the Diaspora), and horror—glimpses into the often terrible history of the Armenian people. But perhaps most affectingly, Arlen tells a story as large as a whole people yet as personal as the uneasy bond between a father and a son. For in writing about his search for Armenia and Armenians, he has also written about anyone who has ever tried to come to terms not just with a father but with a father's fears, offering a masterful account of the affirmation and pain of kinship.


Praise for Passage to Ararat

"More than an excursion into a place . . . The whole work glows like a jewel with the warmth of humanity and the appreciation, hard won, of both strength and weakness."—Eugenia Thornton, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Beautifully written and stunning in its insight and honesty... One comes to see that the object of Arlen's search is not only, or even primarily, Armenia or Armenians, but himself and his father."—David Milofsky, Milwaukee Journal

"[A] moving, passionate book . . . written with a mixture of passion, puzzlement, sorrow, and outrage."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"Beautifully moving . . . The reader becomes captivated with exotic tales from the past and joins Arlen's journey with zest in this quite marvelous record."—William Hogan, San Francisco Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Michael J. Arlen; Introduction by Geoffrey Wolff

  • Michael J. Arlen is also the author of several other books, including Exiles. He lives in New York.