Voyages by Pete Najarian
This is an appealing and timely first novel by a young Armenian-American who writes of the difficulties of coming to terms with a second homeland that isn’t always welcoming. Writing out of the memories of growing up “different” in an Armenian community on the Jersey side of the Hudson, Peter Najarian turns into lyrical and moving fiction his tale of disillusionment with America, its crassness, its inhumanity to ethnic groups, and its betrayal of the very values it proclaims. Aram, the young narrator of the novel, recounts stories of massacre and breakups of families in Armenia, lonely journeys to the New World, and painful new starts in strange and harsh circumstances. These stories of his parents and their generation become a rich counterpoint to his own story and his own generation, a very different tale, but one in which he tries to join his past with the present. Rejecting the example of his older brother, Aram refuses to become a conventional American, but even in Europe cannot escape the deep love he holds for his brother and for home. Turning once again towards America, Aram seems to contemplate a new confrontation, perhaps a better connection with his time and his country.