Bestselling author to discuss memoir

Peter Balakian's book explores Armenian Genocide

Peter Balakian will discuss his coming-of-age story, “Black Dog of Fate (An American Son Uncovers his Armenian Past).”

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aug. 26, 2013) New York Times bestselling poet and nonfiction author Peter Balakian will discuss his 1997 memoir at a free public event as part of the California Lutheran University program that requires all freshmen to read the same book.

Balakian will discuss his coming-of-age story, “Black Dog of Fate (An American Son Uncovers his Armenian Past),” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, in Gilbert Arena.

“Black Dog of Fate” is set in the affluent New Jersey suburbs where Balakian was the first-born son in an American-Armenian family. Immersed in the ideal all-American boyhood of the 1950s and 60s, he was unaware that members of his family, including his heroic grandmother, were victims of the Armenian Genocide. In unearthing the secrets of his family’s past, Balakian moves from childhood memories to history to his own coming of age. The book won the 1998 PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir and was a best book of the year for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Publisher’s Weekly.

Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response,” won the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book and a New York Times Best Seller. His most recent books of poems are “Ziggurat” and “June-tree: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2000.” He is co-translator of Girgoris Balakian’s “Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918.”

He is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, professor of English and director of creative writing at Colgate University. His awards and civic citations include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Spendlove Prize for Social Justice, Tolerance, and Diplomacy, and the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared widely on television and radio, and his work has been translated into 12 languages.

CLU’s freshmen were asked to read “Black Dog of Fate” before arriving on campus for New Student Orientation on Aug. 30, and the First-Year Seminar sections will explore the text throughout the semester. The First-Year Experience program helps students socially and academically with the transition to college by engaging them in a common learning experience, fostering their understanding of academic inquiry and prompting them to think about questions that matter in the world.

Gilbert Arena is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center on the north side of Olsen Road near Mountclef Boulevard in Thousand Oaks. For more information, contact Jim Bond at or 805-493-3244.