There Was and There Was Not

There Was and There Was Not

A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond

Book - 2014 | First edition.
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A young Armenian-American goes to Turkey in a "love thine enemy" experiment that becomes a transformative reflection on how we use-and abuse-our personal histories

Meline Toumani grew up in a close-knit Armenian community in New Jersey where Turkish restaurants were shunned and products made in Turkey were boycotted. The source of this enmity was the Armenian genocide of 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government, and Turkey's refusal to acknowledge it. A century onward, Armenian and Turkish lobbies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince governments, courts and scholars of their clashing versions of history.

Frustrated by her community's all-consuming campaigns for genocide recognition, Toumani leaves a promising job at The New York Times and moves to Istanbul. Instead of demonizing Turks, she sets out to understand them, and in a series of extraordinary encounters over the course of four years, she tries to talk about the Armenian issue, finding her way into conversations that are taboo and sometimes illegal. Along the way, we get a snapshot of Turkish society in the throes of change, and an intimate portrait of a writer coming to terms with the issues that drove her halfway across the world.

In this far-reaching quest, told with eloquence and power, Toumani probes universal questions: how to belong to a community without conforming to it, how to acknowledge a tragedy without exploiting it, and most importantly how to remember a genocide without perpetuating the kind of hatred that gave rise to it in the first place.

Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780805097627
Branch Call Number: 327.56105 TOU
Characteristics: 286 pages :,map


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Oct 13, 2015

Lightweight, personal diary by narcissistic fashion journalist who travels to Turkey to see why Armenians aren't liked.

ChristchurchLib Feb 08, 2015

One hundred years ago this year, Ottoman Turks began systematically killing one million or so Armenians; many modern Turks say this never happened, while many modern Armenians want official recognition that it did. Needless to say, the two groups don't get along. Meline Toumani, an Armenian American raised in New Jersey who was taught to hate the Turks, examines the legacy of the genocide of 1915 by spending four years in Istanbul -- a place she once thought she'd never set foot. Excellently blending memoir, travelogue, history, and reportage, this nuanced portrait of Turkey examines what she discovered there and how it transformed her." Armchair Travel February 2015 newsletter

eferry Dec 05, 2014

For anyone interested in or involved with Armenian-Turkish relations, Toumani presents her own oft-conflicted experience as an American Armenian living both in the US and abroad in Turkey. She is clear about her own struggles with the modern fight for genocide recognition and the consequences thereof.

While Toumani is not giving a history lesson, her book is an awfully telling story of the effects that our upbringing and experiences have on our reality. The trials of both staying true to her beliefs but also keeping an open mind to the conflicting beliefs of others, especially while she is living abroad, are issues we can all sympathize with.

This book does not present a 'solution' to current problems in Armenian-Turkish relations, but brings light to some often-forgotten problems that keep dialogues from advancing.

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