Nancy Kricorian's All the Light There Was is a stunning novel about an Armenian family's struggle to survive the Nazi occupation of Paris in the 1940s. Meticulously researched and lyrically told, All the Light There Was is an unforgettable story of loyalty, love, and the many faces of resistance.
Against the fascinating backdrop of World War II-era France, All the Light There Was explores the Armenian immigrant experience through the eyes of a precocious young heroine. At the start of the Nazi occupation, fourteen-year-old Maral Pegorian is living with her family in Paris; like many others who survived the genocide in their homeland, they've come here to build a new life. As the Nazis march down the Rue de Belleville, the adults brace for the suffering and oppression they know all too well, but to the children, it's a new, bewildering experience. The story follows Maral, her brother Missak, and her beloved Zaven as they learn to fight and try to survive over seven harrowing years.
All the Light There Was shows us occupied Paris as we've never seen it before - a would-be safe haven from persecution and genocide, tragically undermined by the Nazi occupation. Inspired by the life of resistance leader and Armenian Genocide survivor Missak Manouchian, Kricorian delved into the Armenian experience in Paris during World War II, interviewing survivors, including the last living member of Manouchian's team. With a light hand and a poetic sensibility, Kricorian weaves her exhaustive historical research, her own Armenian heritage, and her lifelong commitment to human rights causes into this beautiful and haunting tale.
"Solid and touching. Readers are instantly drawn into this world, full of hardships of wartime occupation and references to the Armenian genocide of the previous generation. Thanks to multifaceted characters, Kricorian's treatment of family dynamics and love under extreme circumstances creates an emotional read."
"An important addition to the WWII fiction shelves, this is bound to spark discussion."
For more information, visit http://nancykricorian.net.
All the Light There Was
A novel by Nancy Kricorian
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-547-93994-0, hardcover, 279 pp., $24.00; also available as an e-book
Nancy Kricorian, author of the novels Zabelle and Dreams of Bread and Fire, is a widely published essayist and activist. After graduating from Dartmouth, Nancy studied and worked in Paris before earning an MFA in writing at Columbia University. As an activist, she is involved with CODEPINK: Women for Peace and the Occupy Wall Street Global Justice Working Group. She lives in New York City.
Gulotta Communications, Inc.
A Conversation with Nancy Kricorian
*What inspired you to write All the Light There Was?
I came across a 1984 French documentary entitled Terrorists in Retirement (original title Des terroristes à la retraite) that told the story of a French Communist Resistance network made up of immigrant workers. The network's leader was an Armenian poet named Missak Manouchian. In late 1943, the Germans arrested Manouchian and twenty-two members of his group, which was comprised of Eastern European Jews, Armenians, and Italian and Spanish refugees. The men were executed by firing squad at Mont Valérien in February 1944. The sole woman was executed by beheading in Germany some months later.
After reading a little more about Missak Manouchian, an Armenian Genocide survivor who immigrated to France in 1925 when he was nineteen years old, I realized I had so many questions: How did the Armenian community of Paris live the four years of the Nazi occupation? What had it felt like for Genocide survivors who had rebuilt their lives in France to look out the window on German troops marching down the Rue de Belleville? All the Light There Was grew out of these questions.