A Summer Without Dawn

Written by Agop J. Hacikyan Jean-Yves Soucy
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

This is the compelling story of a family caught up in the deportation and extermination of Armenians during the Great War. In the summer of 1915, Vartan Balian, a former writer for the current government’s opposition, is a target for execution. In prison, with his whereabouts unknown, his family is forced to join the Armenian population of Sivas, a small town in Turkey, on a forced march. With only the belongings that could fit into an oxcart, the Armenians are forced to travel to their new home, where they are told that they will live separate from the Turk population. Many Armenians will die or will be sold into slavery on this march. After escaping from his prison, Vartan travels throughout the country for three years in search of his wife, Maro, and their son, Tomas.

This is a remarkable, unforgettable novel of survival based upon the true story of the ethnic cleansing by the Turkish government during the First World War. The novel is well-written with fascinating and memorable characters, both Turks and Armenians, who are caught up in the government’s extermination of millions of people. Translated into English from French, this novel was first published in 1991. I highly recommend this book to all who wish to learn more about this tragedy, an event in world history that still is not recognized by the present Turkish government as having actually occurred.