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May 16, 2017
| ISBN 9780385721967
May 17, 2016
| ISBN 9781101875872
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May 16, 2017 | ISBN 9780385721967
May 17, 2016 | ISBN 9781101875872
It wasn’t until she was nineteen that Agata Tuszyńska, one of Poland’s most admired poets and cultural historians, discovered that she was Jewish. In this profoundly moving and resonant work, she uncovers the truth about her family’s history—a mother who entered the Warsaw Ghetto at age eight and escaped just before the uprising; a father, one of five thousand Polish soldiers taken prisoner in 1939, who would become the country’s most famous radio sports announcer; and other relatives and their mysterious pasts—as she tries to make sense of anti-Semitism in her country. The poignant story of one woman coming to terms with herself, Family History of Fear is also a searing portrait of Polish Jewish life, before and after Hitler’s Third Reich.
“Family History of Fear has been in me for years. Along with this secret. From the instant I found out I was not who I thought I was.” Every family has its own history. Many families carry a tragic past. Like the author’s mother, many Poles did not tell their children a complete story of their wartime exploits—of the underground Home Army, the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising, the civil war against the Communists. Years had to pass before the stories of suffering and heroism could be told.In Family History of Fear, Agata Tuszyńska, one of Poland’s most admired poets and cultural historians, writes of the stories she heard from her mother about her secret past. Tuszyńska, author of Vera Gran (“a book of extraordinary depth and power”—Richard Eder, The Boston Globe; “captivating”—Newsweek; “darkly absorbing, shrewd, and sharply etched”—Publishers Weekly), has written a powerful memoir about growing up after the Second World War in Communist Poland—blonde, blue-eyed, and Catholic.The author was nineteen years old and living in Warsaw when her mother told her the truth—that she was Jewish—and began to tell her stories of the family’s secret past in Poland. Tuszyńska, who grew up in a country beset by anti-Semitism, rarely hearing the word “Jew” (only from her Polish Catholic father, and then, always in derision), was unhinged, ashamed, and humiliated. The author writes of how she skillfully erased the truth within herself, refusing to admit the existence of her other half. In this profoundly moving and resonant book, Tuszyńska investigates her past and writes of her journey to uncover her family’s history during World War II—of her mother at age eight and her mother, entering the Warsaw Ghetto for two years as conditions grew more desperate, and finally escaping just before the uprising, and then living “hidden on the other side.” She writes of her grandfather, one of five thousand Polish soldiers taken prisoner in 1939, becoming, later, the country’s most famous radio sports announcer; and of her relatives and their mysterious pasts, as she tries to make sense of the hatred of Jews in her country. She writes of her discoveries and of her willingness to accept a radically different definition of self, reading the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer, opening up for her a world of Polish Jewry as he became her guide, and then writing about his life and work, circling her Jewish self in Lost Landscapes: In Search of Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Jews of Poland. A beautiful and affecting book of discovery and acceptance; a searing, insightful portrait of Polish Jewish life, lived before and after Hitler’s Third Reich.
Agata Tuszyńska is the author of six collections of internationally translated poetry, a biography of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Vera Gran: The Accused, and Bruno Schulz’s Fiancée. Tuszyńska is the recipient of the Polish PEN Club Ksawery Pruszyński Prize, a grant… More about Agata Tuszynska
“Illuminating. . . . Tuszyńska offers us vignettes and personal narratives that track the ever-shifting course of Polish-Jewish relations in the 20th century.” —The Wall Street Journal“Family History of Fear is not only a memoir or work of restorative personal history. It’s an act of un-erasure. Tracing her bloodlines of fear, secrecy and self-loathing, [Tuszyńska] uncovers a history of survival and solidarity, of profound love.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)“A work of fierce courage. . . . [Family History of Fear] is Tuszyńska’s beautiful, terrifying fight to bring her heritage alive.” —The Jewish Book Council “A family saga meticulously re-created . . . A literary account of searching for one’s identity.” — Ryszard Kapuściński´, author of The Soccer War and Imperium“A moving memoir.” —Toronto Star
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