Accursed Years: My Exile and Return from Der Zor, 1914-1919
London: Gomidas Institute, 2009, 322 pages. ISBN 978-1903656846.
Yervant Odian’s Accursed Years is a remarkable account of the Armenian Genocide written by an Armenian intellectual in 1919, soon after the events in question. His survival during this period was probably due to the fact that he avoided arrest in Constantinople on the night of April 24, 1915 by going into hiding. Odian was eventually arrested and exiled in different stages as far as El Bousera, past Der Zor. He arrived there after hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees had been killed in the region through starvation, disease and massacre. Odian’s survival and escape allowed him to tell his own story and give insights into the fate of others. Accursed Years captures the terror of Odian’s experience, yet it is written in a sensitive, understated and even humorous way. This work is sure to become controversial, once it becomes part of academic discussions, because it raises interesting questions about our understanding of the Armenian Genocide. How could an Armenian intellectual in his forties survive this period in Der Zor? What does this tell us about conventional narratives of the Armenian Genocide, or our understanding of the planning and implementation of the genocidal process? Odian’s memoirs make fascinating reading and promise to break new ground in discussions of the Armenian Genocide in the years ahead.