Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Aline Ohanesian

Aline Ohanesian was born in Kuwait and immigrated to So. Cal at the age of three. After getting her MA in History, she abandoned her PhD studies when she realized her heart belonged to the novel. Her writing was a finalist for the PEN Bellwether Award for Socially Engaged Fiction and the Glimmer Train Best New Writers Award.

Ohanesian's new novel is Orhan's Inheritance.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

Every novel has a moment of origin, which I always find fascinating. What sparked the writing of this particular book?

I get a little shy when I'm asked to talk about this because for the most part, I'm a real "normal," level-headed person, but the moment of origin for this novel was so out there. I was resting after a sleepless night with my baby when I heard a voice. I could tell it was female and I knew she was old. She said only a few sentences about the futility of words. How they take an event and immediately corrupt it with meaning. I love words and language. I would never say or think something like that. I wrote what I heard down on a scrap piece of paper. I wanted to know who she was and why she didn't want to talk about things. In many ways the whole novel is a pursuit of that woman's voice and story. I never heard anything after that. Not like that.

So I started constructing, using my imagination, but also using the stories my great-grandmother Elizabeth told me about her own experiences at that time. Both my paternal grandparents were also survivors. I wanted to honor them by telling their stories. What's really kind of miraculous is that seven years later, when I got my first review by Kirkus, the reviewer used only one quote from the book. It was the same two sentences that came to me all those years ago. Writing is a lot like construction. There's a lot of structure and thinking involved but in the best of circumstances, there's also a great deal of...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Orhan's Inheritance.

Writers Read: Aline Ohanesian.

--Marshal Zeringue