Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian to Discuss Latest Novel with Stephen Kurkjian on May 18

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By Barbara Merguerian

WATERTOWN — Best-selling author Chris Bohjalian will mark the publication of his latest novel, The Lioness, in a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Kurkjian at the Armenian Museum of America on May 18 at 7 p.m.

Following the success of his last novel Hour of the Witch and the HBO Max’s TV series based on his book The Flight Attendant, the Armenian-American author returns this year with his 23rd publication, described as “a riveting historical thriller.”

Stephen Kurkjian, who will join in the program, is an acclaimed investigative reporter and a founder of the Boston Globe’s famed Spotlight Team. The winner of countless national and regional awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes, he is the author of Master Thieves, the story of the 1990 theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The May 18 event will celebrate the first public program at the Armenian Museum of America since the coronavirus struck two years ago. The museum has been re-opened since June and currently features a new exhibit on “Merchants and Maps” as well as new displays of weapons, fine Armenian jewelry, and contemporary art.

“We are delighted to host the two esteemed authors under the auspices of the museum’s Library Committee, since books continue to be an integral part of our mission and our collection,” explains Executive Director Jason Sohigian. “We are proud to share the re-launch of on-site events with Chris and Steve.”

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Bohjalian is no stranger to the Armenian Museum. His release for The Sandcastle Girls in 2012 drew a record attendance. Considered his most personal novel, it deals with the Armenian Genocide and is based on considerable research by the author, some of it carried out at the Armenian Museum. In fact, the novel mentions in several places the wealth of resources to be found at the museum.

Stephen Kurkjian

The Sandcastle Girls examines the Genocide through the eyes of the narrator who tries to understand the experiences of her Armenian grandparents and the reasons why they remained silent about the tragic events of their early life. It was an immediate sensation, declared by Oprah Winfrey as a “must-read” book.

Bohjalian’s books often focus on issues such as homelessness, animal rights, and environmentalism. Many of his novels are historical, approaching past events as mysteries to be untangled and brought to life through strong and nuanced characters. Others are based on current events, exploring the complexities of modern existence in a variety of settings, often probing his characters’ response to sudden, unexpected disaster.

The Lioness tells the story of a luxurious African safari that turns deadly for a Hollywood starlet and her entourage. It is set in 1964 in Tanzania, where actress Katie Barstow and her husband have invited a glittering entourage of co-stars, managers, and publicists for a safari adventure. Envisioning candlelit dinners and capturing wildlife on film, the group instead face a team of Russian mercenaries and a botched kidnapping as violence and rebellion rage next door in the eastern Congo. Part psychological drama and part survival thriller, the book deals with themes of race, fame, and love. The author spent time in Tanzania to assure the authenticity of the setting.

Signed copies of The Lioness will be available for purchase at the event, which is free and open to the public. Registration is required via Eventbrite at tinyurl.com/lionessatama.

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