Books by Arlene Voski Avakian

Released: April 1, 1992

The memoirs of an Armenian-American as she struggles for self- awareness. Avakian, whose mother and grandmother came to the US after surviving the Turkish genocide against the Armenians, grew up in New York and New Jersey in the 40's and 50's, lived as a professor's wife in the 60's, and entered the feminist movement—- recognizing her own identity as a lesbian—-in the 70's. Avakian's story begins with her struggle to ``become an American.'' All but denying her Armenian heritage, she attends a ``regular'' church, makes Jewish and Greek friends, and avoids her family's demands whenever possible. She studies art history at Alfred Univ. and then Columbia, marries a young academic and travels with him from one teaching appointment to another while raising their two young children. Avakian is at her best when describing her married years: The confusion and oppression she felt then are palpable. After becoming pregnant with her first child, she says, ``I spent most of the time sitting in the apartment and staring at the walls....I just sat and waited for the baby that had already changed my life.'' Her observations of university life and her accounts of friendships are also vivid and engrossing. But her chronicle bogs down with too-long descriptions of courses and university bickering. Avakian also does little to explore her Armenian heritage, and when she does return to the subject in the last chapter—by interviewing her relatives—the effort seems merely tacked on. Despite the Armenian-American twist, this is primarily the story of an academic wife breaking out of the mold to re-create herself. As such, it's well written and acutely observant, though slow in parts. Read full book review >