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.