for her. She is on the other side of potential now, where everything counts" (355). As in Najarian Daughters of Memory and Arlen Passage to Ararat, what counts is to make peace with the past, and that, in turn, means not to pass on either the pained silence or the painful stories to another generation: "You passed your fears on to us as kids" (362), Seta says to her American-born mother, who, in turn, received them from Seta's grandmother; Seta does not wish to pass them on to her unborn child, to give yet another hostage to history. 14 Translation, transmission, and transfer again emerge as issues, but Edgarian's way of dealing with them is more nuanced than what has come before.
Like the older Chinese women of The Joy Luck Club, to which this text bears several similarities ( Amy Tan praises the novel in a blurb), Casard's friends know her story, yet guard it for a long time as they continue to watch over her family: "[T]he ladies I carry with me like chromosomes," Seta writes (355). The full story is not revealed in any one epiphanic moment but in dreams and historical recollections that punctuate the strong narrative of the younger generations, whose lives are not painless: an Armenian-American woman is raped; Vietnam is invoked as offering a kind of parallel to the genocide; Araxie, of the middle generation, does not behave as an Armenian daughter and mother should. Having married an odar she loves against her mother's wishes, fifteen years later she cuckolds him with an Armenian man, only to return to her husband. Desire is a force in this novel. In the Armenian-American tradition of narrative, where even male desire has not been generously acknowledged (there are prostitutes and masturbation in Voyages, but only as symptoms), the sudden emergence of female desire as a repeatedly empowering force is evidence that this tradition has managed to narrate its way through and past rape, shame, and silence.
This overview has concentrated on long narratives at the expense of short stories and poems, because doing so provided the axis of an indispensable generational analysis. The regrettable, if in this context necessary, neglect of the poetic tradition must be partially redeemed. Like other West Asian cultures, the Armenian is richest in poetry, and that tradition is invoked by the poets who came of age in the 1960s and after. Michael Akillian, Harold Bond, Peter Balakian, Diana Der Hovanessian, and David Kherdian are among those who have written many fine poems. It must be emphasized that a majority of their works, especially Balakian's (technically the most accomplished), have no discernibly Armenian or ethnic concerns. Those that do can be crudely categorized as belonging to either the vatic or the personal lyric tradition.
Der Hovanessian is the prominent oracular poet, who apostrophizes the murdered generations and the land: "O Kovkas/I too have seen your ice glory," she writes ( Selected Poems35). She has also "seen," that is, has read and translated (often with Marzbed Margossian), the work of the major poets killed
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Publication information: Book title: New Immigrant Literatures in the United States:A Sourcebook to Our Multicultural Literary Heritage. Contributors: Alpana Sharma Knippling - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 37.
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