About The Author
a brief biography of:
(a.k.a. Berj Vassilian)
Berge Wassilian--an American Armenian writer-- was born in Bourj Hamoud,
Lebanon, to an Armenian family. His birthplace was an appalling Armenian
refugee camp called Teero Camp -- aka Tiro Camp -- where thousands of
displaced Armenians who were some of the survivors of the 1915 Ottoman
Turkish massacres had settled during the first world war.
Berge Wassilian attended Tekeyan Armenian elementary school in Bourj
Hamoud and later graduated from Beirut's Hovagimian-Manougian
Armenian high school.
As if being born poor in a shantytown was not enough, Berge lost his
musician father--Dickran Vassilian-- at the tender age of 10. Dejected by
that tragedy, he grew up without guidance virtually on his own and
endured enormous hardships during the long Lebanese civil war (1975-
1992) Miraculously he defied death several times, one of which happened
at the age of 18 during his excursion to the US embassy (to apply for an exit
visa) under a rocket shower, through the streets of the then divided city of
Beirut. His many encounters with death are vividly depicted in his novel.
While reading a story about Berge’s death encounters, anyone can easily
find himself or herself standing next to him during his ordeals, because
Berge has an exceptional style to tell a story.
In 1978 Berge hastily left behind his mother, three sisters and his father’s
“lost paradise” and escaped to the nearby island of Cyprus on a
commercial boat; from there he found his way to America and joined his
fourth sister and started attending University.
Berge Wassilian was actually penniless upon his arrival to the “City of
Writing or literature was not his interest during his college years, but his
college writing teacher Mrs. Ann Fisher-Wirth had become impressed with
his college writing essays and inveigled him to write a book someday.
Based on his teacher’s intuitions, Berge Wassilian should have majored in
English. Instead, he majored in business administration. He managed to
secure full scholarship from the Armenian philanthropist called Alec
Manougian, and graduated in 1983 with honors from University of La Verne.
While attending college he worked odd jobs to earn pocket change and to
support his impoverished mother who was still in Lebanon at the time. He
decided to accumulate wealth to become a philanthropist like his generous
After graduating from university, Berge Wassilian married his Armenian
college girlfriend and had two children, a girl and a boy. For about four
years he worked as an assistant manager at Pep Boys auto parts. He quit
that job and became a self-employed businessman in Hollywood selling
army surplus and uniforms. He borrowed his childhood nickname and
named his cramped 300 square feet store “Bearjig Enterprises” and
worked there for 20 years. During the last three years in his store, while
business conditions started deteriorating, between attending the
dwindling customers he started writing his haunting memoirs on his Lap
Dancer (lap top computer) in order to kill time and feel productive.
“Nothing good in my life was meant to last for long…” kept repeating Berge
Wassilian in his first novel. Half way in the fulfillment of his American Dream
to become a philanthropist he went through a heartbreaking and
devastating divorce which forced him to live one day at a time and give up
on accumulating wealth. Fortunately he found a loving and caring second
wife who stabilized his overwhelming moody character. Here is another
quote from his novel in this regard: “I am a very moody man. I go through
changes of temperaments like newborn babies go through diaper
In July 2007 he spent $10,000 from his own pockets and
fearlessly self-published his first novel “The Intrepid Pigeon”
During his last year in his moribund little store,
as his business conditions gravely deteriorated, he tried
to find solace in writing seated on a very uncomfortable
self-made desk-chair. In “The Intrepid Pigeon” he called that
chair “Slave’s chair.”
During the second half of 2007,while engaged in his “cage-like” store's
liquidation, he managed to finish writing a second novel titled “The Cost of
a Spare Key” (yet to be published) and started working on his short stories.
In December 2007 he quit being a businessman and stopped chasing the
dollar in order to pursue more self-gratifying activities: reading, writing,
Mr. Wassilian works for The Home Depot for two years after completely
liquidating his little shop of twenty years not to have a day-job only but to
go through new experiences simply to gather material for new short
stories. After becoming a top salesman two years in a row, he becomes
nostalgic about his old cage-like store.
For some eerie reasons, the vacated space of his old store in the discount
shopping mall never becomes leased by anyone after his exit. Berge
decides to set up a brand new store from scratch. On July 26, 2010, he
obtains a new lease and within a month he re-establishes Bearjig
Enterprises. Not to feel caged again, he does not spare a dime or any effort
to make his little shop resemble a second home. He builds a custom work
station in the midst of uniforms and army surplus merchandise, places a
little synthesizer, a new lap top, high power stereo system…television and
all kinds of gadgets on it to feel himself at home.
Immediately after settling down in his brand new store, ever-creative
Berge Wassilian starts composing new melodies and writing new short
stories. “I only feel guilty when I am not creating…” says Mr. Wassilian with
a forced grin under his graying mustache and continues accentuating
“…My conscience will…first, torment me and then slowly kill me when I sit
What he means by that is, “…There is a lot to create and produce but not
enough time…[I] need countless lives to write all the stories in my head
and compose all the melodies impatient to flow out of my fingers…”
Unfortunately, the re-established retail store turns out to be a financial
misfortune; very bad sales conditions forces Berge to bitterly liquidate and
quit being a businessman one more time.
Berge diverts most of his financial resources from his cherished liquidated
retail store into real estate income properties.
He is currently engaged in composing and editing his own music.
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Lebanon writer, Armenian writer, Lebanese writer, teero camp, tiro camp, tirocamp, teerocamp
Dear visitor. This web site was created primarily to promote my
self-published novel "The Intrepid Pigeon." If you came to this
page directly from the Internet, I urge you to visit my home page
Please click the 'Next Page' button below if you are interested in
reading the chapter titled "Injured Doves" from The Intrepid Pigeon.