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Black Dog of Fate: The Legacy of Genocide in an American Family

Balakian, Peter

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ISBN 10: 046500704X / ISBN 13: 9780465007042
Published by Basic Books, New York, 1997
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

289 pages. Hardcover with dust jacket. INSCRIBED to JAIME AND SIGNED BY AUTHOR on front fly leaf. Clean copy with only light wear to dust jacket. Record # 468060. Bookseller Inventory # 468060

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Black Dog of Fate: The Legacy of Genocide in...

Publisher: Basic Books, New York

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


His visions are burning his poetry heartbreaking,” wrote Elie Wiesel of American poet Peter Balakian. Now, in elegant prose, the prize-winning poet who James Dickey called an extraordinary talent” has written a compelling memoir about growing up American in a family that was haunted by a past too fraught with terror to be spoken of openly. Black Dog of Fate is set in the affluent New Jersey suburbs where Balakian the firstborn son of his generation grew up in a close, extended family. At the center of what was a quintessential American baby boom childhood lay the dark specter of a trauma his forebears had experienced the Ottoman Turkish government's extermination of more than a million Armenians in 1915, the century's first genocide. In a story that climaxes to powerful personal and moral revelations, Balakian traces the complex process of discovering the facts of his people's history and the horrifying aftermath of the Turkish government's campaign to cover up one of the worst crimes ever committed against humanity.In describing his awakening to the facts of history, Balakian introduces us to a remarkable family of matriarchs and merchants, physicians, a bishop, and his aunts, two well-known figures in the world of literature. The unforgettable central figure of the story is Balakian's grandmother, a survivor and widow of the Genocide who speaks in fragments of metaphor and myth as she cooks up Armenian delicacies, plays the stock market, and keeps track of the baseball stats of her beloved Yankees. The book is infused with the intense and often comic collision between this family's ancient Near Eastern traditions and the American pop culture of the '50s and '60s.Balakian moves with ease from childhood memory, to history, to his ancestors' lives, to the story of a poet's coming of age. Written with power and grace, Black Dog of Fate unfolds like a tapestry its tale of survival against enormous odds. Through the eyes of a poet, here is the arresting story of a family's journey from its haunted past to a new life in a new world.


The author of four volumes of verse, Peter Balakian writes with the precision of a poet and the lyricism of a privileged suburban child in 1950s New Jersey. He is shadowed by his relatives' carefully guarded memories of past trauma: the brutal Turkish extermination in 1915 of more than a million Armenians, including most of his maternal grandmother's family. Balakian seamlessly interweaves personal and historical material to depict one young man's reclamation of his heritage and to scathingly indict the political forces that conspired to sweep under the rug the 20th century's first genocide.

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