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Book Club – Dance of the Banished

Ingrid's PickDance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

In Dance of the Banished, acclaimed author, Marsha Skrypuch, breathes life into a piece of history with passionate clarity. Published on the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I, Dance of the Banished tells the dual stories of alien internment in Canada and the Armenian Genocide in Turkey, both from an unusual perspective.

Why Mrs. Scott loves it
“I first became aware of award-winning Brantford author Marsha Skrypuch in 2008 when we read her book, Daughter of War, for our Christian High School Book Club. Since meeting her that year as our author guest at The Final Word, Marsha has continually been on my radar. With the centenary of World War 1 being commemorated 2014-2018, Dance of the Banished was a natural inclusion on this year’s reading list.

Set in Turkey at the onset of WW1, Skrypuch, who herself is of Armenian descent, enlightened me with important historical events including roles that Ontario towns like Brantford and Kapuskasing engaged in with the indigenous Alevi people of Turkey. 

Although fiction, this book is a great book club inclusion because it raises many questions about the role that Canada played during WW1 with “enemy aliens” and it’s rife with information about religious persecution while also exploring various beliefs. Reading historical fiction is a great way to learn history, particularly when the author, like Marsha Skrypuch, is also a diligent researcher.”

About Dance of the Banished
Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?

IScottIngrid Scott, Librarian