PORTLAND, Maine – In 1988, Anna Astvatsaturian was a 10-year-old girl living in the seaside city of Baku, in the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan. She kept a diary, recording her hopes, dreams and observations on life. Then her childhood was shattered as her family and thousands of Christian Armenians were forced out of Azerbaijan by the majority Muslim Azeri population. Astvatsaturian’s family fled to nearby Armenia.
“We lived in a shed that was used to store wood. My father cleared out one little room and the four of us lived there with no heat, nothing,” she recalled. “Armenia had just suffered a major earthquake, they were at war. They couldn’t help and house 200,000 extra Armenians.”
Astvatsaturian’s new memoir, Nowhere, a Story of Exile, follows the family’s harrowing journey as refugees, from the early days in Baku all the way through their resettlement near Fargo, North Dakota in 1992. The book was published electronically in June by hybooksonline.com, and the paperback version just became available this fall, through the publisher and on Amazon.com.
Astvatsaturian became a U.S. citizen in 1997 and graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 2003. She was one of the first Americans to clerk for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. She and her husband and their two children live in Westbrook, Maine, and she works in the financial industry.
The book jacket reads: “Nowhere, a Story of Exile is a riveting, heart-wrenching story told through a personal medium; through the diary entries of a young girl documenting the organized terror in Baku, her life as a refugee, and her struggle to find herself, all against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Anna gives a voice to a horrific tragedy little reported in the West, to the Armenian population of Azerbaijan and to the child victims of ethnic cleansing everywhere.”