The Gathering Place, by E.G. Sergoyan
The Gathering Place: Stories from the Armenian Social Club in Old Shanghai (216 pages), is a collection of stories compiled from interviews with Armenians who immigrated to Asia during the first half of the twentieth century.
A hundred years ago, the small country of Armenia within the Ottoman Empire became the site of continuous border conflict, political intrigue and sporadic wars between the Turks, the Persians and the Tsarist Russians. Early in the twentieth century, these regional conflicts erupted into bitter political and ethnic “cleansing” that decimated the country and nearly destroyed the population living there. The causes and magnitude of the ethnic killing that took place during and after World War I are still debated and disputed in Turkey and Armenia today.
In times of calamity or economic distress, there is a small percentage of people (about two percent) who are willing to leave family, home, and their country of origin to set up businesses in exotic or foreign lands. The two-percenters and undocumented immigrants whose stories appear in The Gathering Place made the arduous trek across Asia to gather in the exotic city of Old Shanghai, where they joined a social club in the city’s Old International Settlement. Their travels coincide with war, economic depression, revolution, banditry and military occupation during the most turbulent period in modern history—a period that covers what some call the ‘Modern Dark Age’—the first half of the twentieth century. The personal histories in The Gathering Place offer a fresh take on the immigrant experience during a time of momentous change in Asia—from the end of World War I to the exodus of Europeans from China.
Says Sergoyan, “I was inspired to write The Gathering Place by two photographs given to me by my mother. The first was a family portrait taken circa 1920. I did not recognize any of the five people. My mother was not surprised and explained that it was the only group photo of my father’s family that survived. I realized then that my father had not spoken of his family or how they had migrated across all of Asia and settled in the Orient. There was a deep tragedy associated with their experience that he did not want to share. I became determined then to interview him and get as much information as possible. That led me to interview others as well. I noticed that many of the stories revolved around the Armenian Social Club in Shanghai—the subject of the second photograph. My hope is that these stories will also help others to personalize the immigrant experience in the Orient between the two World Wars, a subject that has had little attention.”
E.G. Sergoyan holds degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering and has been involved in the aerospace industry for over forty years. This book is his first non-technical publication. Mr. Sergoyan and his wife live in Mukilteo, Washington, with family nearby. For more information, please visit his blog.
The Gathering Place is available in 6×9 trade paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com, the European Amazons, and Amazon Japan. Wholesale orders can be placed through email@example.com and Ingram. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources or Midwest Library Services.
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