Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, author of The Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide, spoke about her book on Wednesday evening, April 15, at the Armenian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Hosted by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) and the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, the author—winner of the 2008 New York Book Fair Award for Best Historical Memoir—discussed her book to a sizeable crowd that included members of the D.C. Armenian community, representatives of Armenian organizations, friends of FAR, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, and his wife, Donna.
In The Knock at the Door, Ahnert tells her mother’s story about surviving the brutality of the Armenian Genocide and her eventual escape to the United States. As Ahnert writes about her plight and survival, she conveys the intimate relationship she shares with her 98-year-old mother.
Ahnert, who is on her third book tour, said The Knock at the Door started out as her master’s thesis when she was a graduate student. Building on her thesis, she wrote The Knock at the Door as a mother-daughter story expressing conversations between her and her mom.
Growing up, Ahnert’s mother told her stories about her life and escaping the genocide. These stories affected Ahnert, and as she got older she realized she wanted to find out more about her family’s story of survival and write a memoir for her children and grandchildren. “I had no idea it would be as big as it is,” said Ahnert, who was honored recently as the recipient of the Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
Ahnert has not only received acclaim for her book but is also educating non-Armenians about the Armenian Genocide. “My goal and mission in life is to tell the story to the non-Armenians who ask me what the Armenian Genocide is,” said Ahnert, emphasizing the importance of fostering dialogue about the genocide and teaching people who will in turn educate others.
Since her book was published in 2007, Ahnert has made appearances around the world. “It’s been just tremendous,” said Ahnert about the positive reception her book has received. “People have embraced me, my mother, and my book. It’s been a beautiful experience.” Ahnert is currently booked through December 2009 and has been invited by Yale University for the second time to present her book.
Regarding her book presentation in Washington, D.C., Ahnert was pleased with the attendance and graciousness of both FAR and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian.
“FAR does wonderful things in Armenia and it is a commendable organization,” said Ahnert.