Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

4.5 stars
In 1913, two Anatolian sweethearts, Ali and Zeynep, were separated through the machinations of a jealous mother and the ravages of war. Each carried a diary to write in. Their story is alternately told through these diaries. 

Ali made it to Canada where he found a job and began to save money to bring Zeynep over to be with him. In the mean time, Zeynep managed to escape their village of Eyolmez. She ended up living with American missionaries in the city of Harput, and worked along side them in the local hospital. Life seemed to be good. 

Then in 1914, war broke out. Canada sided with Britain against the Ottoman Empire. Ali, along with other Armenian Canadians, was rounded up and sent to Kapuskasing, an internment camp in Northern Ontario. 

Ali's life may have become difficult, but in Turkey, Zeynep's became a nightmare.  She was caught up in the midst of ethnic cleansing as 1.5 million Christian Armenians were gathered up and murdered by the Turks. At first, Ali was safe because she was Alevi Kurd. Eventually she too was forced to flee. 

I really enjoyed this book. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. I appreciated the maps at the front and back of the book that helped me to put the events and places in geographical context. As I read I was fascinated to learn about the Alevi religion and culture. I was horrified to read about the Armenian genocide. Against this historical & political backdrop, Skrypuch has created authentic characters in Ali and Zeynep. I was deeply invested in their survival and eventual reunification. 

Dance of the Banished is exemplary historical fiction that fully engages the reader as it entertains and educates us about other times. After reading the author's notes at the end of the book, I was compelled to go and dig into more deeply into this time frame and these events. 

Thank you, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, for the fabulous history lesson. 


  1. Delighted that you enjoyed the novel, Cheriee.

    1. I'm even more delighted that you wrote it. I'm looking forward to reading Underground Soldier next!

  2. Thank you for sharing this review with me! I am going to put it on my TBR--it sounds fascinating :)