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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 20 Aris Janigian This Angelic Land

Tonight on Bibliocracy, 8 PM:  ARIS JANIGIAN. My guest tonight has written one of the first novels to consider the LA riots.  Twenty years later, Aris Janigian has composed a beautiful, sad, funny and multi-layered book which complicates, develops, personalizes and at the same time universalizes that event.  This Angelic Land, whose ambitions are fully, breathtakingly realized in the novel’s characterization, description and perspective, tells the story of that three-day and many lifetimes-inducing moment for a family of  Armenian-American LA immigrants from Beirut, Lebanon, of all places.  They’d imagined perhaps a new or different life but find, of course, that their new one is a similar tale involving all-too familiar themes of racialization, class struggle, community, hope and violence.  The story is told by one brother, a documentary film maker, looking for the experiences of his younger brother, whose life becomes a complicated yet somehow exemplary story, shifting its telling back and forth between the riots and their lives as kids, in family, and in the younger sibling’s disappearance.  The novel’s heart is in the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide, and in Lebanon, but also in the promise of Little Armenia and the multi-cultural experiment of the city of Los Angeles. With this novel, Janigian, author of two previous books, Riverbig and Bloodvine, establishes himself as a confident, energetic, entertaining prose stylist full of poetic urgency, word play, humor and ecstatic realist and historically confident everyday political layering of the moments before, during, and after the violence and catharsis that was (and is) the social earthquake of April 1992.  This novel comes highly recommended by, well, me!  Thanks for listening, live on the radio or online, and downloadable free for 90 days from the KPFK archives.

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