A Time for Terror

Kevork Ajemian, Author Books International $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-891078-00-2
Packed with more boredom than terror, this insipid nationalist message novel--the first in English by a prolific Armenian-language writer (and the first issue from this small press)--falls short of what seems its chief goal: to win interest in and sympathy for the century-long struggle of Armenians for self-determination. The novel takes place in the early 1980s, when what was left of modern Armenia (after the Turks decimated the country and its people early in the century), was still a Soviet republic. When Shavarsh Sarhadian, the novel's embarrassingly romanticized hero, a former Armenian Liberation Army leader who's currently an apathetic Beirut professor, gives his tacit assent to the assassination of a maniacal fellow nationalist, the scene is set for an engaging cat-and-mouse game between the idealistic hit men and their dangerous target. This intrigue also promises a device to justify the cause. Sadly, Ajemian wastes both opportunities. He makes only cursory references to the pre-WWI Armenian genocide and displacement, focusing instead on the romantic vagaries of the aging, boorish professor and his cat's paw, the youthful leader of the assassins. The story bogs down in a morass of banal dialogue about rootless patriotism and true love, and the narrative is virtually devoid of action, except for a minor, gratuitous sub-plot detailing an attack on Sarhadian by a student unhappy with his grades. If we're supposed to cheer when the kid misses, perhaps not every reader will oblige. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
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