The American Society of Journalists and Writers has named Dawn Anahid MacKeen winner of its ASJA Writing Awards for Books in the Biography/History category. She will receive the award for her winning title, The Hundred-Year Walk – An Armenian Odyssey, at the annual ASJA Chicago Conference, November 17-18 at Columbia College Chicago.
The judges called this book “two stories of courage in one rich narrative: a granddaughter uses her grandfather’s letters and diaries to follow his path through the World War I Armenian Genocide.”
The book is an epic tale of one man’s courage in the face of genocide and his granddaughter’s quest to tell his story
In the heart of the Ottoman Empire as World War I rages, Stepan Miskjian’s world becomes undone. He is separated from his family as they are swept up in the government’s mass deportation of Armenians into internment camps. Gradually realizing the unthinkable — that they are all being driven to their deaths — he fights, through starvation and thirst, not to lose hope. Just before killing squads slaughter his caravan during a forced desert march, Stepan manages to escape, making a perilous six-day journey to the Euphrates River carrying nothing more than two cups of water and one gold coin. In his desperate bid for survival, Stepan dons disguises, outmaneuvers gendarmes, and, when he least expects it, encounters the miraculous kindness of strangers.
The Hundred-Year Walk alternates between Stepan’s saga and another journey that takes place a century later, after his family discovers his long-lost journals. Reading this rare firsthand account, his granddaughter Dawn MacKeen finds herself first drawn into the colorful bazaars before the war and then into the horrors Stepan later endured. Inspired to retrace his steps, she sets off alone to Turkey and Syria, shadowing her resourceful, resilient grandfather across a landscape still rife with tension. With his journals guiding her, she grows ever closer to the man she barely knew as a child. Their shared story is a testament to family, to home, and to the power of the human spirit to transcend the barriers of religion, ethnicity and even time itself.