Today we have Dawn MacKeen sharing her new novel The Hundred-Year Walk. She takes us on a journey stepping into her grandfather's shoes. Come along for the ride.
Dawn Anahid MacKeen’s grandfather, Stepan Miskjian, kept meticulous journals of his entire story, a “road map to his life,” which MacKeen felt compelled to follow by traveling to Turkey and Syria to walk in his steps—a dangerous venture since it was illegal there to even mention this part of history. But she had to “taste his thirst, touch the land where he walked. See the green hills surrounding his Adabazar, where his dreams of becoming the town’s first courier had taken root, before they withered and died in the desert.” And so the book jumps from Stepan’s journey to hers, from history to present, in a page-turning narrative aflame with raw emotion.
There are several other publications by Armenian authors in this centenary year, but none personalize these events the way MacKeen does inTHE HUNDRED-YEAR WALK. She takes tremendous risk to make sure her grandfather’s legacy is remembered, and expands on his account by drawing on newspapers from the period, other survivor memoirs, official telegrams, and even tracking down the relatives of the survivors from her grandfather's caravans.
MacKeen is an award-winning investigative journalist who has written for places like the New York Times Magazine, Salon, Elle, and Newsday. But several factors almost kept her from writing this astounding piece of history. To name just a few:
- Her grandfather barely survived the Armenian genocide. He escaped countless times, and all that he witnessed almost died with him.
- In 2006, MacKeen discovered four more notebooks just as she was about to quit the book for lack of additional information. These included Stepan’s life before WWI.
- In Raqqa, Syria, she met a Bedouin sheikh who helped her find the family of the Arab sheikh who saved her grandfather’s life. By the time she had returned to Syria in 2009, the Bedouin sheikh had died.
- The war in Syria now makes travel to the country impossible. A century later, history is repeating itself along the Euphrates, where MacKeen traveled; the area has once again become a cemetery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dawn Anahid MacKeen is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent nearly a decade on her grandfather’s story. Previously she was a staff writer at Salon, Newsday, and Smart Money. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California.
I am giving away one copy of this novel. It is open to US only.