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Spring Author Series: Chris Bohjalian
With regrets, Steamboat, tonight's author event is canceled. The ongoing pile-up of snow has impeded Chris Bohjalian's flights to Colorado. He is unable to get to Steamboat for this evening's talk. -- 10:30 a.m., Wednesday
Spend an evening at the library with author Chris Bohjalian. This community talk is free.
About the author
Bud Werner Memorial Library welcomes back a beloved Literary Sojourn author Chris Bohjalian. He is the author of fifteen books, including the New York Times bestsellers, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness and Midwives. His new novel, The Light in the Ruins, arrives in July 2013. It's the tale of two young women in war-ravaged Tuscany in 1943 and 1944, one a partisan and one a noblewoman in love with a German lieutenant.
Bohjalian's most recent novel, The Sandcastle Girls, was published to great acclaim. A love story set in the midst of the Armenian Genocide, it debuted at #7 on the New York Times bestseller list. USA Today called it “stirring. . .a deeply moving story of survival and enduring love.” Entertainment Weekly observed, “Bohjalian – the grandson of Armenian survivors – pours passion, pride, and sadness into his tale of ethnic destruction and endurance.” And the Washington Post concluded that the novel was “intense. . .staggering. . .and utterly riveting.” The Sandcastle Girls was also an Oprah.com Book of the Week, and a Washington Post, Library Journal, a Kirkus Reviews, and a BookPage "Best Book" of 2012.
Bohjalian's awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. His earlier novels have been selected as "Best Books of the Year" by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, Publishers' Weekly, and Salon. His work had been translated into over 25 languages and three times become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives and Past the Bleachers).
He has written for a wide variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and has been a columnist for Gannett's Burlington Free Press since 1992. Chris graduated from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.
Chris Bohjalian's Reading List
The Sandcastle Girls
This spellbinding tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012 — a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author's Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date.
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. World War I is spreading across Europe and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.
Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents' ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed "The Ottoman Annex," Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura's grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family's history that reveals love, loss – and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.
The Night Strangers
In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, had to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 died on impact or were drowned. The body count? Thirty-nine, a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village, self-proclaimed herbalists, and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous? The result is a powerful ghost story with a palpable sense of place, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.
Secrets of Eden
After the murder of Alice Hayward and the suicide of her husband, Reverend Stephen Drew flees the pulpit and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about angels. Heather, identifying deeply with Alice's daughter, Katie, mentors the young girl but soon suspects that Alice's husband may not have killed himself ... and that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.
Skeletons at the Feast
As Hitler's Third Reich crumbles, an aristocratic Prussian woman and her child flee west away from the approaching Russian army. Eventually they form an unlikely alliance with a Jewish man escaping from the concentration camps.
The Double Bind
This story travels between Jay Gatsby's Long Island and rural New England, between the Roaring Twenties and the 21st century. When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont's back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs that he won't let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that he was telling the truth: before he was homeless, Bobbie Crocker was a successful photographer who had indeed worked with such legends as Chuck Berry, Robert Frost and Eartha Kitt. As Laurel's fascination with Bobbie's former life begins to merge into obsession, she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret. Her search for the truth will lead her further from her old life and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her. In this spellbinding literary thriller, rich with complex and compelling characters – including Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan – Chris Bohjalian takes readers on his most intriguing, most haunting, and most unforgettable journey yet.
Before You Know Kindness
For ten summers, the extended Seton family met at their country home in New Hampshire, but during the eleventh summer everything changed.
The Buffalo Soldier
A hauntingly beautiful story of the ties that bind families – and the strains that pull them apart. In northern Vermont, a raging river overflows its banks and sweeps the nine-year-old twin daughters of Terry and Laura Sheldon to their deaths. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the highway patrolman and his wife, unable to have more children, take in a foster child: a ten-year-old African-American boy who has been shuttled for years between foster families and group homes. Young Alfred cautiously enters the Sheldon family circle, barely willing to hope that he might find a permanent home among these kind people still distracted by grief. Across the street from the Sheldons live an older couple who take Alfred under their wing, and it is they who introduce him to the history of the buffalo soldiers – African-American cavalry troopers whose reputation for integrity, honor, and personal responsibility inspires the child. Before life has a chance to settle down, however, Terry, who has never been unfaithful to Laura, finds himself attracted to the solace offered by another woman. Their encounter, brief as it is, leaves her pregnant with his baby – a child Terry suddenly realizes he urgently wants. From these fitful lives emerges a lyrical and richly textured story, one that explores the meaning of marriage, the bonds between parents and children, and the relationships that cause a community to become a family.
Four people in a small Vermont village are about to have their lives inexorably intertwined by the uncertainties of love...and the apparent absolutes of gender. Schoolteacher Allison Banks, the long-divorced mother of a teenager on the cusp of college, has at last fallen in love. The object of her desire? Dana Stevens, a professor at the nearby university and her instructor for a summer film and literature course. Her daughter, Carly, watches with pleasure her mother's newfound happiness, but her ex-husband, Will, the president of Vermont Public Radio, is jealous. Still secretly in love with his ex-wife, he finds himself increasingly unsettled by the prospect of Allison's attachment to another man. Yet Dana is unlike anyone Allison has ever been with: attentive, gentle, kind – and an exceptionally ardent lover. Moreover, it's clear that Dana cares just as deeply for Allison. The only stumbling block? Dana has known always that in actuality he is a woman – genitalia, plumbing and perceptions be damned – and he will soon be having a sex change operation. At first Allison runs, but overwhelmed by the depth of her passions, she returns. But can the pair's love transcend both the biologic imperatives that are their bodies, as well as their ingrained notions of sexual preference? Moreover, can their love survive the outrage of the small community in which they live? All four characters – Allison, Dana, Carly, and Will – narrate this compelling story, spinning a tale that will keep you turning the pages with the eagerness we usually reserve for thrillers, while nodding in wonder at such a deeply moving and profoundly honest portrayal of longing,
This compulsively readable novel explores what happens when a woman who has devoted herself to ushering life into the world finds herself charged with responsibility in a patient's tragic death. The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for 15 years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if – as Sibyl's assistant later charges – the patient wasn't already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her? As recounted by Sibyl's precocious 14-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives – and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.
The Law Of Similars
A startlingly powerful story of three people whose lives are irrevocably changed by illness, healing and love. Two years after his wife's sudden, accidental death, a Vermont deputy state prosecutor, Leland Fowler, finds that the stress of raising their small daughter alone has left him with a chronic sore throat. Desperate to rid himself of a malady that has somehow managed to elude conventional medicine, Leland turns to homeopath Carissa Lake – who cures both his sore throat and the aching loneliness at the root of his symptoms. Just days after Leland realizes he has fallen in love with the first woman who has mattered to him since his wife, one of Carissa's asthma patients falls into an allergy-induced coma. When Carissa comes under investigation, straight-arrow Leland is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma of enormous proportions. Set against the ongoing clash between conventional and alternative medicine – between what we know science can offer and the miracles that always seem to be just beyond our reach – The Law of Similars is a haunting and deeply atmospheric tale, a page-turning examination of the fragile threads that hold people together when the worst that can happen really does...and the unexpected and luminous ways we are made well.
In March 1986, while living in Brooklyn, Chris Bohjalian and his wife were cab-napped on a Saturday night and taken on a forty-five-minute joy ride in which the driver ignored all traffic lights and stop signs. Around midnight he deposited the young couple on a near-deserted street, where police officers were about to storm a crack house. Bohjalian and his wife were told to hit the ground for their own protection. While lying on the pavement, Bohjalian's wife suggested that perhaps it was time to move to New England. Months later they traded in their co-op in Brooklyn for a century-old Victorian house in Lincoln, Vermont (population 975), and Bohjalian began chronicling life in that town in a wide variety of magazine essays and in his newspaper column, "Idyll Banter." These pieces, written weekly for twelve years and collected here, serve as a diary of both this writer's life and how America has been transformed in the last decade. Rich with idiosyncratic universals that come with being a parent, a child and a spouse, Chris Bohjalian's personal observations are a reflection of our own common experience.
In the midst of a New England drought, cynical ski industry lobbyist, Scottie Winston, is trying to get a large ski resort the permits it needs to tap already beleaguered rivers for snow making. His wife, his little girl, and his sister-in-law, who are all dowsers or water witches, hope to stop him.
About the Spring Author Series at BWML
Bud Werner Memorial Library presents a series of free author talks throughout spring 2013. We proudly welcome Jim Davidson (March 18), Cheryl Strayed (April 11), Chris Bohjalian (April 17), Mary Roach (April 30) and Kent Haruf (May 15) to the library, and the Steamboat Springs community. Each of these diverse award-winning authors will speak about their literary works and their writing processes during a talk in Library Hall. Each talk will be followed by a Q&A and an opportunity to have authors sign copies of their books.
Books will be for sale on-site at the event courtesy of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.
THANK YOU to Bear Claw Condominiums/BREO Inc. for their generous support of this program!