Denise Shekerjian is the author of two works of nonfiction including Uncommon Genius, which is a narrative look at how great ideas are born. (Viking, 1990, Penguin, ’91, ’01). Based on interviews with forty winners of the MacArthur Prize or so-called “genius award,” she pieced together a picture of the creative process in action. Her two-year blog was a continuation of her inquiry into the mechanics of the artistic process, especially as related to the written arts. It was featured on Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop section on writing and cited in her award of an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Vermont, 2012.
Her essays and short stories have earned two Pushcart Prize nominations and have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Crab Orchard Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Chariton Review, Puerto del Sol, The Distillery, Inkwell, The Baltimore Review, Confluence, The North Dakota Quarterly, Lalitamba Mandarim, Primer Stories and other literary journals.
The Rug Merchant’s Progeny is a first novel, set in Turkey, 1915, and in Paris, forty years later. Based on stories gathered from survivors of the the Armenian genocide, it follows the progress of young Guy Bashian, the rug merchant’s eldest daughter, who comes of age and falls in love at precisely the wrong time given world affairs. The last page has turned on the Ottoman sultans, and a trio of upstart ministers is now in charge. The Young Turks, as history would come to call them, press long-simmering agendas of ethnic cleansing. Told in four first-person voices, Guy’s story is of love and loss, and of the courage and connivance required to survive in a world gone mad. Throughout, the luminous Oriental rugs of her father’s shop mirror how a life can come together or apart.
Previous to her writing life, the author pursued a career in law. With a J.D. and an LL.M, she worked first in human rights and then as a trial attorney – federal court, highly profiled cases, criminal defense. Competent Counsel, a nonfiction look at working with lawyers, drew from these years (Dodd, Mead, 1985).
She is a past member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Authors Guild, and several bar associations. She is also an active member of her community and played a founding role in the creation of the Charlotte Library as well as Generator, Burlington’s downtown maker space.
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