Rise the Euphrates

Carol Edgarian, Author
Carol Edgarian, Author Random House (NY) $22 (370p) ISBN 978-0-679-42601-1
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Hardcover - 978-0-517-16423-5
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Is it better to embrace an agonizing past, or to put it aside at the risk of losing one's ethnic identity? Edgarian's strong-voiced first novel embodies this painful question in the story of three generations of powerful women. Casard comes to America after losing her parents and brother during the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Turks. Overwhelmed by survivor's guilt, she clings to her native land's traditions and is enraged when her daughter Araxie marries a non-Armenian. At the center of the two women's wrenching struggle is Araxie's daughter Seta, who must ultimately balance her Armenian and American identities, discharging debts to both her mother and her grandmother. The author argues convincingly that our strongest relationships are established on a level beyond words or rational thought. While perhaps too reliant on the mystical transmission of knowledge (Casard whispers the secrets of her past to the infant Seta at her baptism), the narrative believably renders conflicts and deep affection among parents and children, lovers, husbands and wives. Largely inarticulate male characters lack the women's depth and passion, and the need to provide historical background occasionally leads to clumsy passages. These are relatively small faults, however, in a novel that is a valuable addition to American immigrant literature. Author tour. (Apr.)
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