The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian

I purchased Mustian’s novel at the annual library used book sale because of the hauntingly beautiful cover. I also knew the novel was about Turkey but leave it to me to unknowingly purchase a book about the Armenian Genocide.

Emmett Conn has long experienced memory loss due to injuries sustained during World War I. At ninety-two-years-old, however, dreams and seizures caused by a brain tumor have forced him to reexamine events he’s unsure if he actually experienced. Was he actually a gendarme, escorting Armenians from Turkey? Did he actually know the woman with the haunting, mismatched eyes?

The reader is moved from present-day Florida and Anatolia around 1915, living Emmett’s dreams and attempting to piece together the story along with him. Having never read a book about the Armenian Genocide before, I appreciated the slow introduction to the experiences of Armenians at that time. If I had been thrown into a novel where I was expected to know more about the Armenian Genocide, I certainly would have floundered.

“The fact that we [the Turks] are allowing these groups [of Armenians] to leave the country seems more than fair. Would they have done the same for us? The Turkish people are united. Turkey is for Turks. The mixture of different peoples will lead only to strife, like a dog with two masters. Better to eliminate the issue now, avoid the inevitable subversion.” (pg. 47)

Although slow moving at parts, I still greatly enjoyed this novel. How interesting that to learn about this particular genocide, which is illegal to actually call a genocide in Turkey, from the point of view of a perpetrator. At the end of the novel Mustian explains how he decided to write this novel and provided a list of book about the genocide he found useful. I certainly will check those titles out.

Book Mentioned:

  • Mustian, Mark T. The Gendarme. New York: Amy Einhorn Books, 2010. Print. 294 pgs. ISBN: 9780399156342. Source: Purchased.
Book Cover © Amy Einhorn Books. Retrieved: November 12, 2011.
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