Salpi Ghazarian and Maral Boyadjian at AGBU Toronto

April 26, 2016



Author describes her novel that weaves together the memories of her four grandparents, all survivors of the Armenian Genocide, into a fictional love story.

On April 14, Toronto Chapter of the Armenian General Benevolent Union with the participation of the Armenian Association of Toronto and the Bolsahay Cultural Association hosted an intimate conversation between the Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies Salpi Ghazarian and Maral Boyadjian, author of award winning novel “As the Poppies Bloomed.” The event was held at the AGBU Alex Manoogian Cultural Centre in Toronto with 130 people in attendance. The conversation between the two American-Armenian sisters, Salpi Ghazarian and Maral Boyadjian, touched on family history with vivid recollections of growing up with their maternal grandmother, a genocide survivor. The audience was transported to the mythical village of Salor, as Maral summarized the first chapter of her novel. Maral described her five years of research, writing, publishing and distribution, with a goal of completing “As the Poppies Bloomed” in time for the 2015 centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

When asked about her inspiration for writing the book, Maral explained: “My daughter came home from college one weekend and said ‘Mom, my friends don’t know about the Armenian genocide’. That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head and I decided right then and there that I was going to write that book – something anyone could read, something interesting yet informative where the characters live and breathe and stay with you long after the last page has been turned.”

A slide show of Maral’s 2012 trip to Western Armenian was on display all evening at AGBU. She made reference to the scenery and the people she encountered in the village of Sassoun, on which she bases the mythical Salor.  Maral described her experience in Sassoun: “I wept when I saw hills and fields just as I had imagined them. Even the hues and tones of the deep red soil were as I had known they would be. It was the very earth my grandfather had walked on.”

As the Poppies Bloomed has received favorable reviews from readers and critics alike, including Kirkus Reviews, which called it “powerful and sensitive.” Signed copies of the book were available for purchase following the event.

For more information on AGBU Toronto, please visit

Isabelle Davidian