By Olya Yordanyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BOSTON — More than 1,5 million Armenian perished from 1915 to 1923 in the Ottoman Empire. That number is so large that it is almost abstract; it is only when stories of survivors are told, resonating with suffering and hope, that they can put a picture with the history.
Eve Makis’ The Spice Box Letters is a flawlessly and cinematically written historical fiction depicting the tragedy of an Armenian family: siblings Mariam and Gabriel Arakelian, were orphaned and separated during the Genocide. Makis magnificently distills the stories of thousands of children orphaned during the Genocide and scattered around the world with the characters of Gabriel and Mariam.
The novel not only shows the difficulties of people who lost their families during the Genocide and their trauma, but also the love and strength they find to continue living.
Their story starts in 1915 in the city of Caesaria — Kayseri in modern Turkey. The Arakelians lived a happy life in a full family, but that perfect world abruptly collapsed with their father’s arrest and execution, and the deportation of the rest of the family. The deportation split the family: Mariam, who saw soldiers killing her older brother Tovmas, pretended to be dead and eventually escaped thinking Gabriel was also killed.