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2017 One Book, One San Diego

About the Book

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. It’s 1915, and Elizabeth has volunteered to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War. There she meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. After leaving Aleppo and traveling into Egypt to join the British Army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, realizing that he has fallen in love with the wealthy young American. 
Years later, their American granddaughter, Laura, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history, uncovering a story of love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the critically acclaimed author of nineteen books, including The Guest Room, The Sleepwalker, The Sandcastle Girls, Skeletons at the Feast, and The Double Bind. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.   

Book Resources

Book Reviews

Audio and Video

Reading Guides and Interviews

Reading Recommendations

Armenian Genocide: Selected Online Resources

More One Book, One San Diego

One Book Events

2017 One Book, One San Diego Kickoff Event with Author Chris Bohjalian
Join KPBS and the San Diego Public Library to kick-off the 2017 One Book, One San Diego season for a special event featuring Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sandcastle Girls. Join us for an evening of literary and cultural enrichment, including a presentation by Chris Bohjalian, special performances and Armenian refreshments. Books will be for sale at the Library Shop independent booktore in the Central Library, and the author will be available for signings.
Hafez Day 2017: Poetry that Heals
Thursday, October 12, 2017 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. | Central Library / Neil Morgan Auditorium
700 years after his death, the 13th century Persian poet Hafez remains Iran's most celebrated bard and one of the most revered writers all across the world.  Hafez is the only writer to have his own holiday, based on the strength of his achievement and his verse that reflects the best aspirations of a people.  Join a diverse slate of featured writers and musicians as we celebrate Hafez Day in San Diego and use verse as an avenue for love, peacemaking, and reconciliation. Co-sponsored with the Persian Cultural Center and presented in conjunction with the 2017 One Book One San Diego reading campaign.
From Armenia to Myanmar: Discussion on Ethnic Cleansing
Saturday, October 14, 2017 |10 - 11:30 a.m. | North University Community Library
The Sandcastle Girls written by Chris Bohjalian is rooted in the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century. It was one of a series of ethnic cleansings that marked the final stages of the Ottoman Empire in modern day Turkey. David Edick Jr. of the San Diego World Affairs Council will speak on the Armenian Genocide and other cases of ethnic cleansing, including the current crisis involving the Rohingya population in Myanmar.
Stories Beyond the Pale
Saturday, October 14, 2017 | 4:00 - 6 p.m. | Central Library / Neil Morgan Auditorium
An evening of storytelling, poetry and music by six of San Diego’s best writers telling stories speaking of their experiences as immigrants and/or minorities in San Diego, in conjunction with the 2017 One Book One San Diego themes of peacemaking, migration, resilience and reconciliation.  Writers will entertain questions from the audience for a lively post-event discussion and dialogue. Refreshments served. Registration encouraged. Co-sponsored with UCSD's SPACES (Student Promoted Access Center for Education and Service).
My Family’s Slave: Lola’s Story
Thursday, October 26 | 6:30 - 8 p.m. | Central Library / Mary Hollis Clark Conference Center
Join Professor Jody Blanco of UCSD’s Literature Dept for a discussion of "My Family's Slave", an essay biography by the Pulitzer Prize–winning Filipino American journalist Alex Tizon in the June 2017 issue of The Atlantic. It tells the life story of a Philippine woman, Eudocia Tomas Pulido, known in the family as "Lola" who lived with the author's family for 56 years, and helped raise three generations of Tizon’s family. Tricked into servitude by the author's grandfather during the 1940s, she was “given” at the age of 18 to the author's 12-year-old mother as a personal servant. After her death in 2011, Tizon repatriated her ashes to her birthplace in the Philippines. It was Tizon's final published story, following his own death in March 2017.
75 Years after Executive Order 9066: Experiences of Local Japanese Americans
Saturday, October 28, 2017 | 2:00 - 4 p.m. | Central Library / Neil Morgan Auditorium
Learn about the experiences of local Japanese Americans impacted by Executive Order 9066 which, during WWII 1942, rounded up and imprisoned people of Japanese descent on the West Coast of the US. Most people of Japanese descent living in San Diego at that time were sent first to Santa Anita Racetrack, then on to Poston Arizona for internment/incarceration. Some of these individuals, who were children or teenagers at the time, still live in San Diego today.
One Book Reading Fun with the Girl Scouts of San Diego 
Saturday, November 4, 2017 | 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. | Carmel Mountain Ranch Library
Celebrate the One Book, One San Diego’s 2017 selection for kids. Join KPBS and the Girl Scouts of San Diego for a special story time featuring My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo.  Recommended for children in grades K-2.  Open to all.
La Rumorosa Rock Art Along the Border
Thursday, November 9 | 6:30 - 8 p.m. | Central Library / Mary Hollis Clark Conference Center
Join photographer and author Don Liponi for a discussion of the book La Rumorosa Rock Art Along the Border, a survey of Kumeyaay and related artwork in Southern California, Colorado River Corridor, Western Arizona and Baja California. It's the first publication to focus on the indigenous rock art of this region. This book is testament to the historical permanence of Kumeyaay culture, and how art creation can help oppressed societies to survive cultural genocide committed against them. Almost none of the sites and photographs have ever been published.
Immigration Equality: LGBT Asylum and Immigration in the U.S
Wednesday, November 15 | 6:30 - 8 p.m. | Central Library / Mary Hollis Clark Conference Center
The concept of “political asylum” is not limited to individuals fleeing their home countries because they have opposing political views in the traditional sense. Asylum seekers flee persecution on many grounds, including race, religion and, increasingly, their status as LGBT individuals. As anti-gay atrocities are being committed in Chechnya and other places internationally, join immigration attorney Ginger Jacobs to explore what it means for LGBT refugees to seek asylum in the US. What are the unique issues that LGBT people face in fleeting severe homophobia in their countries of origin and what can we, as a community, do to support LGBT asylum-seekers?
Armenian Art, Music and Literature
Saturday, November 18, 2017 | 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. | La Jolla/Riford Library
A multimedia presentation by author and speaker Lisa Kirazian and Dr. Anna Kulidjian, with live music and song by Sona Baghdasaryan. Authentic Armenian refreshments provided. In collaboration with the San Diego Chapter of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, an Armenian service organization.
One Book Discussion: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. | North Clairemont Branch Library
The North Clairemont Book Club will discuss the One Book selection, The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian at the inaugural meeting. Join us for the very first meeting of what promises to be a lively and respectful discussion each month. Copies of the title are available at the Circulation Desk now.
One Book Discussion: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Ocean Beach Branch Library
Come join us for a lively discussion of the 2017 One Book selection, “Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian, a sweeping tale of a legacy of the Armenian Genocide that would affect an American family for generations.  
One Book Discussion: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Thursday, December 7, 2017 | 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. | Mission Hills Branch Library
The Mission Hills Book Group will discuss this year’s One Book, One San Diego selection, The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. New members are always welcome to attend and participate! Please read the book beforehand. Books are available at the Circulation Desk while supplies last.
Lou Grande: One of Thousands
Friday, December 8, 2017 | 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. | San Carlos Branch Library
Local resident, Lou Grande, will tell his story of fleeing Cuba as a child during Operation Peter Pan in 1962. He will discuss themes of forced migration and resilience as reflected in the 2017 One Book One San Diego selection “The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian.
The Story behind ‘The Smoking Gun’ of The Armenian Genocide: A Presentation of Never-Before-Seen Documents
Friday, January 19 | 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. | Central Library / Neil Morgan Auditorium
On April 23, the New York Times published an article about Professor Taner Akçam’s recent work. The article focused on an Ottoman document Akçam states is “the smoking gun,” which demonstrates the Ottoman government’s awareness of, and involvement in, the elimination of the Armenian population. The document, acknowledged as authentic by the post-World War I Ottoman government, helped convict its author, Behaeddin Shakir, one of the founders of the Committee of Union and Progress, as one of the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide. However, this key piece of evidence, along with other damning documents used during the post-war Constantinople trials of the perpetrators, vanished. Or so it seemed. In the course of examining the archives of the late Fr. Krikor Guerguerian, Akçam discovered that the Armenian Catholic priest had made photographic copies of Shakir’s telegram and other crucial documents. This presentation will be the first time this and other documents have ever been discussed in a public setting.

2017 One Book Film Festival

9 Films | 9 Tuesdays | October 3 - November 28 | 6:30 p.m.
Central Library / Neil Morgan Auditorium
The San Diego Central Library proudly presents a diverse slate of international diverse film screenings that speak to the themes of peacemaking, migration, resilience and reconciliation featured in the One Book San Diego 2017 selection The Sandcastle Girls by New York Times bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian. Introductions and post screening dialogue with the audience led by SDSU Professor and KPBS blogger Rebecca Romani.
The Cut | October 3
In 1915 a man survives the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, but loses his family, speech and faith. One night he learns that his twin daughters may be alive, and goes on a quest to find them. Directed by Fatih Akin, 138 minutes, Germany/Turkey, 2014.
Mustang | October 10
In a village in Northern Turkey, when five orphan girls are seen innocently playing with boys on their way from school, their scandalized conservative guardians confine them while forced marriages are arranged.  The five sisters who share a common passion for freedom, find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them. Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 97 minutes, France/Turkey, 2015.
On the Bride’s Side (Io Sto con la Sposa) | October 17
A Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden, and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers, by faking a wedding. Directed by Antonio Augugliaro and Gabriele del Grande, 90 minutes, Italy/Netherlands, 2014.
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock & Roll | October 31
This film examines Cambodia's recent history through its rock music of the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in the genocidal Khmer Rouge's dismantling of the society and murder of two million of its citizens. Combining interviews of surviving rockers with never-before-seen archival material and rare songs, this film tracks the twists and turns of Cambodian music as it morphs into rock and roll, blossoms, and is nearly destroyed along with the rest of the country. Directed by John Pirozzi and Andrew Pope, 95 minutes, USA/Cambodia.
Sometimes in April | November 7
In 1994 Hutu nationalists raised arms against their Tutsi countrymen in the African nation of Rwanda, beginning of one of the darkest times in African history. Over the course of the next 100 days, citizen would turn against citizen, tearing families apart and resulting in the death of 800,000 people. In this film, a Hutu soldier (Idris Elba) tries to get his family to safety during the genocide, while years later his brother stands trial for his actions. Directed by Raoul Peck, 140 minutes, USA/Rwanda, 2005.
Long Night’s Journey into Day | Npvember 14
This Oscar winning film tells four stories of Apartheid in South Africa, as seen through the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. White soldiers who have killed African National Congress activists, black activists who have killed whites in political attacks: can there be forgiveness when the full truth comes out? Directed by Deborah Hoffmann and Frances Reid, minutes, USA/South Africa, 2000.
Even the Rain (También la Lluvia) | November 21
As a film director (Gael García Bernal) and his crew shoot a controversial film about Christopher Columbus’ conquest in Cochabamba, Bolivia, local people rise up against plans to privatize the city’s municipal water supply. Directed by Icíar Bollaín, 103 minutes, Spain, 2010.
Three the Hard Way | November 28
The story involves a white supremacist plot to taint the US water supply with a toxin that is harmless to Whites but lethal to Blacks. The only obstacles that stand in the way of this dastardly plan are the three biggest Blaxploitation action stars of the 1970s: Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly, who shoot, kick and karate chop their way to final victory. Directed by Gordon Parks, Jr., 90 minutes, USA, 1974.