By Daphne Abeel
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
Although the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer, since this book is not entirely about the Armenian community in China, the volume is, nevertheless, in the main, a collection of stories and vignettes that chronicles one of the more exotic communities of the Armenian Diaspora.
Certainly, it is true that members of the Armenian community have been flung far and wide — merchants and traders to India, immigrants to Europe,
Canada and the United States — but the relatively small group of people who chose to move to Harbin in northern China and later Shanghai make up that unusual band of refugees the author calls the “two-percenters.”
In his introduction, he defines them in the following way: “A two-percenter is a person who leaves his home, his fortune and sometimes even his country to create a better life during times of trouble…. Even in times of war, famine and chaos, the vast majority of any community will stay where they are and try to survive in familiar surroundings. Not a two-percenter. The two-percenters will continue to move on, even into the most exotic or difficult settings…. The two-percenters in these stories gathered first in Harbin and then in Shanghai. In each city they formed a population of two percenters.” Amongst these two-percenters was a small