1920, the second book in Haig Tahta’s projected
trilogy, chronicles the impending fall of the Ottomans
and explores the circumstances and atmosphere of Constantinople
during the British occupation of the city from 1920 to
1922. It carries forward the same characters from Mr. Tahta’s
first novel, April 1915, set in the Ottoman Empire at a
critical moment following its fateful decision to join
the Great War in November 1914.
an Armenian girl, and Selim, a Turk, are impossibly in love.
Their relationship, much more difficult and problematic than
Romeo and Juliet, develops and unfolds during the Greco-Turkish
War, reaching its shocking climax in the burning of Smyrna.
An historical novel of deep insight and high passions, Constantinople
1920 brings to focus a time which echoed throughout the world
and set in train events that would engulf Europe in flames
a few decades later. Written with a rare sense of humanity
and peopled with a plethora of characters, bold, sensitive,
articulate and always fascinating, Constantinople 1920 is
that rare novel of ideas and drama that appeals to both the
heart and the intellect.
Tahta was born in Manchester of Armenian parents who came to
England in the 1920s from Constantinople. The connection with
Stamboul continued throughout his formative years when long
holidays were taken there with his large extended family. Inevitably,
he attained his degree in Modern History at Oxford where he
specialized in “the Eastern Question.” On leaving
Oxford, he became a lawyer, remaining in that profession for
forty years. During his working life he took a strong interest
in the Armenian disaspora. Along with his brother, Dick Tahta,
Haig translated the classic Armenian novel, Burning Orchards,
published by Black Apollo Press. The first novel of Haig’s
projected trilogy, April 1915, was published in 2005. Constantinople
1920 is the second in this series which follows the Avakian
family through the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.