The Luckiest One by Harkiné Pilibosian Hagopian is the memoir of a survivor of the Armenian genocide (circa 1915). The content of this book was transcribed from oral interviews with Harkiné herself. Her grandson, Robert W. Rollings edited the transcripts for readability, but otherwise the story is told in Harkiné’s own words.
Rollings provides “Introduction” and “End Matter” sections that give context to the story. Harkinè is a memorable character who is able (in her 90’s at the time the interviews were conducted) to remember specifics from her childhood and young adulthood as the deportation and subsequent genocide unfolds around her.
Her sister married into a harem to save the Pilibosian family. Harkiné, her father and grandmother live under the protection of the Arab for some time before Harkiné marries (at the age of 14) to escape being married off to another Muslim man.
Through it all, Harkinè shines as a spunky, intelligent, resourceful and “lucky” girl. She immigrates to the United States (Indianapolis, Indiana) and raises five children who go on to give depth to her legacy.
I read this book because I am a friend of Harkiné’s youngest daughter, Mary Hagopian. Robert W. Rollings did an excellent job of setting the stage for the story, including scores of pictures, maps, charts and a family tree to keep track of the interesting characters. I highly recommend this fascinating book!