*Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the Book Club of California and are free and open to the public. Please refer to the description under each event.
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The Missing Pages is the biography of a manuscript that is at once art, sacred object, and cultural heritage. Its tale mirrors the story of its scattered community as Armenians have struggled to redefine themselves after genocide and in the absence of a homeland.
Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh follows in the manuscript’s footsteps through seven centuries, from medieval Armenia to the killing fields of 1915 Anatolia, the refugee camps of Aleppo, Ellis Island, and Soviet Armenia, and ultimately to a Los Angeles courtroom. Reconstructing the path of the pages, Watenpaugh uncovers the rich tapestry of an extraordinary artwork and the people touched by it. At once a story of genocide and survival, of unimaginable loss and resilience, The Missing Pages captures the human costs of war and persuasively makes the case for a human right to art.
A live online presentation by Heghnar Watenpaugh, Ph.D., author and professor of art history at the University of California, Davis
Mary Risala Laird has published letterpress books since 1969 as Quelquefois Press and as partner in Perishable Press Limited from 1969-84. Her teaching ricochets include San Francisco State University, Kala Institute, Naropa University, the San Francisco Center for the Book and most recently, Tibetan Handicraft Industries in Katmandu. She prints on a Vandercook Universal I. Poetry, jazz, painting, the mystics of all traditions, and long silent retreats lend meaning to her life and inspiration to her work. Her books may be found in collections across the U.S. and in London. She has three grown children and lives in Berkeley with her husband, John Malork.
A live online presentation by Mary Risala Laird, printer, book artist, and teacher
Born in 1908, the fourth child of a poor Armenian immigrant family, the writer William Saroyan grew up in a community that managed to escape the genocide in Armenia. Surrounded by love but not much food, the family struggled to build a new life in the agricultural community of Fresno. At three years old, Saroyan lost his father, Armenak, to a sudden illness. His mother, Takoohi, found work in San Francisco and moved her four children to an orphanage in Oakland where they spent the next five years. Eventually, the Saroyans moved to San Francisco, where William lived for many years. Saroyan used the rich collection of characters in both Fresno and San Francisco to delight readers and ultimately analyze the human condition. Although Saroyan was born in California, he carried with him the trauma of the Armenian Diaspora, viewing his world through two striking lenses that were each unfamiliar to the American public that largely lived on the East Coast.
Even though he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940 and an Academy Award for Best Story in 1943, Saroyan has disappeared from the American literary canon, a memory shared only by people who came of age before the 1970s. In this talk, Saroyan’s cousin Charles Janigian will demonstrate what made Saroyan so exciting when he burst onto the scene in 1934 with his short stories, and what helped him sustain a writing career until his death in 1981. Janigian will share some of Saroyan’s short stories that illustrate the rhythmic, universal, and timeless nature of Saroyan’s prose, as well as rare artwork and ephemera held at Janigian’s archive, Forever Saroyan, in San Jose. He will show that Saroyan’s words are perhaps more relevant today than at any point in the last 100 years, and how we can reintroduce him to the American audience. This lecture also commemorates Saroyan’s birthday on August 31, 1908.
A live online presentation by Charles Janigian, writer, editor, collector, and managing director for Forever Saroyan, LLC
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