Writing an enjoyable novel about the Armenian genocide might seem like an impossible task, but Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin, Apr.), a powerful debut by Aline Ohanesian, balances an unflinching portrayal of the horrors of war against a captivating tale of family, love, and survival. In the present, Orhan Turkoglu returns to his family’s village in Turkey after his grandfather’s death and learns that he has inherited the family business—and that his grandfather has left the family’s home to an Armenian woman in California that none of them know. The tale of Orhan’s journey to find the woman, and to learn of her importance to his family, is interspersed with flashbacks to his grandfather Kemal’s early life. Meanwhile, Seda, the elderly Armenian woman, wants only to forget her painful past, while her niece and the people around her refuse to let go of it. Orhan’s Inheritance is a remarkable, unforgettable novel.
Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, Mich.