As old Vartan sits reading mystical Persian poetry amongst the dust and disintegration of war-torn Beirut, the fluted pillars of his decaying house wreathed in shadows, his thoughts wander back, inevitably, to another conflict, many years before…
Only the Dead is the story of Vartan Nakashian, a young Armenian from Aleppo caught in the midst of a world war that is proving catastrophic for his people. We follow his journey of love, espionage, tragedy, betrayal and revenge across the tumultuous Levant of 1915–18, as the crucible of war and genocide makes a man of the boy we first encountered. Now advanced in years, Vartan ruminates on life, loss, guilt and the many adventures and horrors of his youth, seeing them mirrored in the fresh catastrophe of the Lebanese Civil War.
This book – inspired in part by a true story – is about the struggle to reconcile conflicting loyalties and affections, the desire for revenge, the search for atonement and poetry’s power to make sense of the human condition.
T.J. Gorton studied Arabic in Beirut and Oxford before his first job as lecturer in Arabic Studies at St Andrews. He went on to live for many years in the Middle East and Arabia and has written or edited six other books about the region. He lives with his Lebanese archaeologist wife between London and South West France.
The event is organised in association with AGBU Young Professionals of London. Admission | £5 to include a wine reception.