Orhan's Inheritance (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill)
In her extraordinary debut, Aline Ohanesian has created two remarkable characters--a young man ignorant of his family's and his country's past, and an old woman haunted by the toll the past has taken on her life.
When Orhan's brilliant and eccentric grandfather Kemal--a man who built a dynasty out of making "kilim" rugs--is found dead, submerged in a vat of dye, Orhan inherits the decades-old business. But Kemal's will raises more questions than it answers. He has left the family estate to a stranger thousands of miles away, an aging woman in an Armenian retirement home in Los Angeles. Her existence and secrecy about her past only deepen the mystery of why Orhan's grandfather willed his home in Turkey to an unknown woman rather than to his own son or grandson. Left with only Kemal's ancient sketchbook and intent on righting this injustice, Orhan boards a plane to Los Angeles. There he will not only unearth the story that eighty-seven-year-old Seda so closely guards but discover that Seda's past now threatens to unravel his future. Her story, if told, has the power to undo the legacy upon which his family has been built. Moving back and forth in time, 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 can haunt a family for generations.
Praise for Orhan's Inheritance:
"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
“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
“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
“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
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.
Photo by Raffi Hadidian