~~I had heard about Aris Janigian’s writing from friends in Los Angeles, and had read the fine essay about his latest novel, This Angelic Land, in a recent issue of the “Los Angeles Review of Books. ” I went to this evening’s reading by Janigian himself with anticipation; I was not disappointed. In fact, it was enjoyable, thoughtful, and felicitous.
Janigian is a great reader, full of wicked charm, emphasizing sound and beat, idiom and turns of phrase. He is also an animated conversationalist–about his novel, which is set in the burning days of the Los Angeles riots of 1992, about Los Angeles itself and its ethnic tensions, about the Armenians of Hollywood, and finally about the meaning of America.
In his answers to questions, Janigian made is amply clear that he is a writer writing about America, who finds Armenians the most interesting ethnic group in America, with many layers of exploration. That he happens to be of Armenian background (he was born in Fresno) is a double gift which, he said, he uses to full advantage with deliberation and attention. His is, in his own words, a post-genocide novel, of immigrants fleeing the civil war of Lebanon and finding themselves in the crazy cauldron of LA’s race riots and the burning of large sections of the city. “All my characters in this novel,” he said, “are ethnic, and all of them are full of fire.”
One of the most interesting questions came from a gentleman who seemed to be wondering out loud, asking: What about American-Armenians like us, second and third generation Armenians? Where has the wildness gone? It’s a powerful question, whose answer is long and complicated. ~~