In My Father’s Name
The true story of the author’s return to his Central California hometown to investigate his father’s unsolved 1972 murder. “Almost every American town harbors some brutal secret, but few produce writers like Mark Arax with both the courage and artistic talent needed to coax the story out and shape it into fine literature,” says Peter H. King of the Los Angeles Times. “Of course, Arax had an extra incentive: the footsteps he followed ran straight through his own family, straight through his own heart.”
In 1972, Arax’s father, Ara, was killed by two shooters at his Fresno nightclub, when Mark was 15; the murder was never solved. But the bond between father and son was especially strong, and Mark, who went on to become a journalist with the Los Angeles Times, struggled for years with his compulsion to solve it. Eventually, he moved back to his hometown for that purpose. This unusual, introspective memoir is the result. It reveals that the large Armenian American community in Fresno was made up of survivors of the 1915 Turkish massacre and their descendants, who fought against constant discrimination. Mark’s father and his uncle built a chain of five groceries, which failed, and Ara then bought the nightclub, where drugs became an increasing problem. The idealistic and stubborn Ara came to know who the big drug dealers were. Determined to blow the whistle on them, he revealed his plans to some of the very policemen who were protecting them. The murder came soon after. Mark developed a clear idea of who the architects of the slaying were as well as insights into his father, other family members, the “fetid town” and, most important, himself.