Thursday, 10 July 2014

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Vous trouverez ci-dessous le lien électronique pour la cinquième édition du livre de  Michèle Ducheny, intitulé Giono et les peintres. Le chapitre sur ma tante Gracieuse Christof (née Shenorhig Chahbalian), débute à la page 149.

Comme madame Ducheny le mentionne dans l’introduction à ce chapitre, une traduction de A Requiem, Armenian Style (Un requiem arménien en français) est en cours. Nous espérons pouvoir publier la version française de mon livre en septembre ou octobre 2014.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Nearly forty-three years after the death of French author Jean Giono, Michèle Ducheny, a retired professor of French, has published the fourth online edition of a book on Giono’s relationship with various painters. Among them is my aunt, Gracieuse Christof, whose painting of my grandparents Valentine (née Targoulian) and Arménag Chahbaghlian (Shahbaghlian) graces the cover of A Requiem, Armenian Style. Ducheny’s discussion of Gracieuse is found on pages 155-156 of Giono et les peintres at:

Note that A Requiem is now part of the Fonds Giono (a vast collection of the works of and about the famed author; his correspondance before 1949 and after 1963; pictures; etc.) in Manosque, France.


Monday, 10 December 2012

What readers are saying about A Requiem, Armenian Style

“A compelling and fascinating story about deeply emotional journeys by people left homeless in their heart in search of being and belonging despite the odds. With subtle humour, intense sorrow and uncompromising realism, this thoughtful book helps recapture a sense of belonging in our own lives.” – Prof. Arpi Hamalian, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

 “I have rarely read a memoir that has been so meticulously researched and skillfully written. Because of my increasingly limited eyesight, I can rarely read for more than an hour at a time. However, so compelling was your book that I found myself unwilling to put it down until I had read the next chapter… and the next…. I learned from my reading many aspects of my family's background and life that I did not know. And it was a privilege to be led into your family's background and life. So thank you, Ruth. You did it, and I love it.” Commissioner Kenneth Laslett Hodder, United States

“This is a memoir that shouldn't be marginalized as an Alzheimer's memoir or an Armenian memoir—it crosses so many more borders.... Your account of the genocide is powerful—brought it more alive for me than even Robert Fisk did in ‘The Great War for Civilisation’. You interweave your protagonists tenderly, and with such insight—your mom, Armenia, yourself. The dream sequences are particularly poignant.” – Melinda Price Wiltshire, Victoria, Canada

“I was once told that without the knowledge of your past history, origin and culture you are but a tree without roots. Reading Ruth's book was like a walk in the woods amongst magnificent, strong, and deeply rooted trees. Very slowly, you recognize yourself in them, an enduring force of nature, reaching for the sky.” – France Adams, author of the children’s book “The Restless Tree”

A Requiem, Armenian Style is a beautiful, eloquent story with a focus on the author's Armenian mother who married and joined her husband’s religious vocation in the Salvation Army in France. Ruth had the luck of access to a wealth of family archival material and combined it with her own years of research—the language is absolutely beautiful and the journey she takes us on, especially the latter part of the book and its frank descriptions of her mom’s Alzheimer’s made this a book that Rob carried around for days, trying in vain to read it slowly, wanting to linger over details, the eloquent, perfect words, and a compelling, dramatic tale. In the end, he gained some surprising insight into Armenians and their history, the Salvation Army and its operations, and learned a lot about the challenges and sacrifices that families make on a journey to acceptance and especially the fleeting nature of memory. Rob loved this book.” – Taken from a Christmas newsletter written by Chris Krawchenko and Rob Shaw

What was to be a personal account of dealing with your mother’s Alzheimer’s turned out to be the realization of your identity. In your quest to know more about who you are, you found answers to aspects of your personality that you never knew you had. Also the sadness found its roots. You wrote honestly but not hurtfully. Naturally, it is your perception, but the dynamics presented could be an account of many families dealing with their elderly parents. I was both amazed and impressed to see how much research it took to write your story. What perseverance!” – Lydia Doerksen, Switzerland

Monday, 29 October 2012

On Friday, October 23, 2012, Sandra Thacker, the producer of the CBC radio program Manitoba Scene, e-mailed me to suggest that I do a short in-studio reading. I quickly put together the material she requested, sent it off to her, and did the reading a few days later. It went well.

As I was leaving the studio, Sandra mentioned something about wanting to use Armenian music as background for my reading. To help her out, I offered to drop off some of my Armenian music CDs. On the way home from the studio, however, I thought, "Hey, I'm Armenian, so either one of my two—yes, two, let’s not be greedy—piano compositions would be considered Armenian (in a salvationarmy-ish kind of way), wouldn't they?"

To make a long story short.... Sandra did mix my piano composition “Love” with my reading. Here’s the result, with a few pictures added by me.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Requiem, Armenian Style

Shushanig Chahbaghlian is an Armenian Orthodox refugee from Marseille who converted to the Salvation Army as a young girl. She meets Albert Hodder, a third-generation Salvationist whose roots are firmly planted in England but who aspires to serve God in the Belgian Congo.  Shushanig and Albert fall in love, marry and have children while pursuing their religious vocation in France, England and Canada, first as officers of the Salvation Army, then as ministers of several evangelical churches in or near Montreal.

Middle daughter Ruth breaks away from religion altogether and makes her life in Winnipeg, which is where her parents relocate after Shushanig becomes ill with Alzheimer’s disease. As the worlds of Albert and Ruth collide, she embarks on the journey of saving her mother’s story and claiming her sorrowful but rich Armenian heritage.

Within this family’s very personal microcosm are universal themes of faith and disbelief, loss and hope, the clashing—and claiming—of cultural identity and memory, and the complexity of caring for people with disabilities in our families and society as a whole.

Ruth Madeleine Hodder has published several personal essays and articles in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias; Illness, Crisis and Loss; Journal of Loss & Trauma; the Globe and Mail; the Winnipeg Free Press; and Revue André Malraux Review. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband Günter Krause and their dog Sam. This is her first book.