Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The Gendarme by Mark Mustian
“Novels like The Gendarme, writers like Mr. Mustian, keep our world afloat amidst the tempests of history. Humanity would no longer recognize itself, its enduring passions and cruelties and triumphs, without them.”
—Bob Shacochis, National Book Award-winning author of Easy in the
Islands and Swimming in the Volcano
“I love this book. Where there is love and humanity, the human spirit triumphs. Read it.”
—Sandra Dallas, New York Times-bestselling author of Prayers for Sale
“Mustian proves in The Gendarme, love in the face of war gives testimony that love endures our savagery, our violence, our hatred.”
—Julianna Baggott, author of The Miss America Family and The Madam
“Mustian shows the readers what the face of history looks like without the makeup. Mainly, though, he paints an unforgettable portrait of the human spirit at its bravest and most resilient.”—David Kirby, member of the National Books Critics Circle Board of Directors, NEA and Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, and author of The Ha-Ha
Emmett Conn is a 92-year-old Turkish-American man living in Wadesboro, Georgia in 1990. A former Turkish soldier in the First World War, Emmett (then Ahmet Khan) had been severely wounded in battle—an injury that had left him with little memory of the war or much before it.
Emmett married the nurse that cared for him in the London hospital where he was treated, then moved to America in 1917. Now a widower, he has one daughter he clashes with, another he rarely sees, and a troubled grandson he desperately longs to be close to.
When Emmett begins to be seized by intense visions, the doctor's diagnosis is a brain tumor. Despite treatment, the visions become increasingly vivid, and Emmett slowly comes to understand that they are his real memories of war, only now re-surfacing. Through the visions, Emmett realizes that he had served as a gendarme a the beginning of the war, leading a savage, deadly deportation of Armenians from Turkey to Syria, one of the most horrifying crimes against humanity of the 20th century.
Alternating between his present as an old man being shuttled through the American medical system, and his past as a gendarme in Turkey at the dawn of the 20th century, Emmett must face the painful truth about what he has done. As his past unfolds, he must acknowledge that he has committed unthinkable acts—yet also acts of compassion. In his dreams, he is finally reunited with the great love of his life—an Armenian girl named Araxie, his captive and supposed enemy who he had helped to survive and protect. As the boundaries between past and present begin to blur, Emmett sets out to find Araxie to beg her forgiveness, and seek redemption.
Masterfully crafted in affecting and resonant prose, The Gendarme is a moving novel about an aging man facing the end of his life, and coming to terms with his brutal past for the first time. It is an enlightening examination of one of the most appalling historical events of the last century, and an uplifting tale about the transcendent and transformative power of human connection.
About the Author: Mark Mustian is an author, attorney and city commissioner in Tallahassee, Florida, where he has practiced public finance law for over 25 years. Mark’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in periodicals such as Stand Magazine, The Green Hills Literary Lantern and Opium Magazine, and his novel The Gendarme will be published by Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons in September 2010, with foreign editions forthcoming in France, Greece, Israel, and other countries. He serves as the chair of the Lutheran Readers Project, a readers’ resource, writer connection and book club (and part of the Lutheran Writers Project) designed to put quality books into the hands and minds of Lutheran readers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the book, please visit: www.markmustian.com