This novel starts with a Journey by a victim of history, and deals with several other kinds of journey-- actual, social, spiritual, as well as several kinds of history-- national, family, personal. It is about three generations of the Stepanyan family, ranging in time from the 1890's to the 1960's, and in space from a ravaged village near the Black Sea to a remodeled town house in the East Seventies. The Gate is the title of a novel young Paul Stepanyan is writing ""rout of my Armenian background, my family's immigrant past,"" and its first chapter is an account of his grandfather's journey to Constantinople and later exile and imprisonment. For others of his generation who escape to America, patriotic idealism is imperceptibly transformed into imprisoning self-deception or obsession. Sarkis, Vahan's son, travels another road in America from poor immigrant to successful architect, in a life which carries a bitter residue of failure in his relationship to his children. For the children, Grace and Paul, the journey is spiritual or psychological, an attempt to fit together a broken truth or a broken self. Unfortunately, the novel is much more vivid at the level of manners and surfaces than it is in attempting to deal with intense emotional states, and much more successful in its satirical portraiture than it is in attaining focus.