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May 26, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

PASSAGE TO ARARAT by Michael J. Arlen (Hungry Mind: $15; 293 pp.). The son of English novelist Michael Arlen, who changed his name from Dikran Kouyoumjian, Arlen struggled after his father's death to come to grips with his long-denied Armenian heritage. In this account of the search for his roots, he interweaves a tumultuous and tragic history with personal experiences. Arlen was initially annoyed by the almost childish chauvinism of his guides in Soviet Armenia, but was eventually won over: "I thought, how strange to finally meet one's past: to simply meet it, the way one might finally acknowledge a person who had been in one's company a long while. So, it's you!"

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