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Dreams of Bread and Fire

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A breathtaking novel that follows a young woman named Ani Silver through college, a long sojourn in Paris, and a string of romantic entanglements, all of which lead her to confront the legacy of her Armenian family's tragic past.

At the book's opening, Ani is a bright, trusting young woman, passionately in love with Asa a New England boy with a trust fund as big as his appetites, and the farthest thing possible from the old world accents and superstitions that filled the childhood home she shared with her widowed mother and her Armenian grandparents. After college, she sets off for Paris in pursuit of education and adventure, safe in the belief that Asa is devoted and waiting for her to come home, where they'll marry and live a simple American life. But just as she is beginning to lose herself to the beauty and mystery of her new city, she receives a letter from Asa that shatters her dreams for the future. Newly unanchored, she confronts the puzzle of her individual and cultural identity for the first time, a puzzle that is enhanced and complicated by the resurfacing of a childhood friend, Van Ardavanian. Van is an elusive and beguiling character, an intense, single-minded young man whose preoccupation with the Armenian heritage they share verges on the obsessive. He shows Ani a whole new way of looking at the world, turns her eyes to a tragic heritage she has shut out, and opens doors to parts of her identity that she has never before acknowledged. But Van cannot deliver her to herself any more than Asa could, and through him Ani learns that passion and idealism can have dark consequences.

Through a new constellation of friends and acquaintances in this foreign city, Ani comes to ask the questions about herself and the continuum she is a part of, and when Van disappears under dubious and mysterious circumstances, Ani returns home determined to puzzle out her past-- that of her father, David Silver, a Jew from NYC who was killed in a car accident when Ani was only five; that of David's family, who cut him and his new family off the moment he married Ani's Armenian mother; and finally, that of Ani's grandmother and grandfather whose gut-wrenching experiences during Armenian massacres at the hands of the Turks spill out once and for all, only at Ani's tentative prompting.

Having learned the hard way that she cannot use other people as conduits through which to find herself, Ani ultimately comes to demand access to the rooms of her past that have been denied her. Infused with warmth and humor, Dreams of Bread and Fire is an irresistible novel that addresses a question that has faced every generation in this whether it is possible to achieve the neat simplicity of American life once we've arrived here without denying the haunting legacies of the places we've fled from.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Nancy Kricorian

7 books111 followers
Nancy Kricorian is the author of the novels Zabelle, Dreams of Bread and Fire, and All The Light There Was, which is set in the Armenian community of Paris during World War II. She is currently working on a novel about an Armenian family in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. She grew up in Watertown, Massachusetts, and lives in New York.

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5 stars
31 (44%)
4 stars
20 (28%)
3 stars
9 (12%)
2 stars
7 (10%)
1 star
3 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for Meltem.
79 reviews12 followers
April 15, 2018
Aslında çok zor ama ilginç bir konuyu anlatan bir kitap olacakken nedense baştaki konuda çok zaman kaybederek bu şansını kaybetmiş. Paris’te geçtiği ve tanıdık mekanlarda geçen kitapları okumayı sevdiğim için almıştım, kadın karakter Ani’yi de sevip merak etmiştim ama bir yarım ve yüzeysel kaldı.

#bizimbuyukchallengeimiz madde 31: Kahramanı kadın karakter olan bir kitap
Profile Image for Eric.
492 reviews8 followers
July 18, 2018
Randomly picked up this volume just to try something different and an author I did not know. It is the story of a young adult woman who grew up in a home with one parent Armenian and one Jewish. Her Jewish father died young, and she is left being raised by her mother and grandparents who have close ties to their Armenian heritage. They expect her to adapt those same cultural values as well, but she resists. Her main challenge - boys and lovers. One eventually dumps her, the other is engaged in a terrorist organization.

This is a winding story of a young woman trying to find her way and identity. The story was somewhat choppy - chapters often jumping rather abruptly and randomly. Oddly, statements by characters are not in quotes, which makes it a bit difficult to read.

The conclusion of the book is incomplete, leaving the reader hanging and unsatisfied.

This was an okay read, but not one that I would necessarily recommend or encourage others to pick up for themselves.
Profile Image for Michael Norwitz.
Author 15 books9 followers
September 2, 2019
Averagely-clever female youth-to-adulthood novel with the slightest touch of Armenian history, touching on the genocide in one chapter.
Profile Image for Lisa Savage.
20 reviews3 followers
September 13, 2014
Loved this youthful account of rebellion and politics amid the intellectual life of Paris. The revealed horrors of the Armenian genocide and various responses of its survivors are skillfully woven into a tale with an appealing main character, Ani, the grandchild of immigrants and the product of a mixed marriage that disappeared one whole side of her family.

The tension between the working class and upper class, and the push-pull between living the revolution and the ordinary domesticity most humans yearn for is skillfully portrayed.

The observation that Anni and her girlfriend discussing relationships was code for bad boyfriends cracked me up.
Profile Image for Rosemarie.
340 reviews
November 5, 2009
Bleh. The inside flap described a different story - one that was intriguing and interesting. The actual story was a dumbed down version. I was disappointed. It didn't get interesting until the very end (with Van's involvement in ASALA and her father's family) and then it just ended. Just like that.
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews

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