The condition of exile is an exaggeration of the process of change and loss that many people experience as they grow and mature, leaving behind the innocence of childhood. Eva Hoffman spent her early years in Cracow, among family friends who, like her parents, had escaped the Holocaust and were skeptical of the newly imposed Communist state. Hoffman's parents managed to immigrate to Canada in the 1950s, where Eva was old enough to feel like a stranger--bland food, a quieter life, and schoolmates who hardly knew where Poland was. Still, there were neighbors who knew something of Old World ways, and a piano teacher who was classically Middle European in his neurotic enthusiasm for music. Her true exile came in college in Texas, where she found herself among people who were frightened by and hostile to her foreignness. Later, at Harvard, Hoffman found herself initially alienated by her burgeoning intellectualism; her parents found it difficult to comprehend. Her sense of perpetual otherness was extended by encounters with childhood friends who had escaped Cracow to grow up in Israel, rather than Canada or the United States, and were preoccupied with soldiers, not scholars. Lost in Translation is a moving memoir that takes the specific experience of the exile and humanizes it to such a degree that it becomes relevant to the lives of a wider group of readers.
From Publishers Weekly
Daughter of Holocaust survivors, the author, a New York Times Book Review editor, lost her sense of place and belonging when she emigrated with her family from Poland to Vancouver in 1959 at the age of 13. Although she works within a familiar genre here, Hoffman's is a penetrating, lyrical memoir that casts a wide net as it joins vivid anecdotes and vigorous philosophical insights on Old World Cracow and Ivy League America; Polish anti-Semitism; the degradations suffered by immigrants; Hoffman's cultural nostalgia, self-analysis and intellectual passion; and the atrophy of her Polish from disuse and her own disabling inarticulateness in English as a newcomer. Linguistic dispossession, she explains, "is close to the dispossession of one's self." As Hoffman savors the cadences and nuances of her adopted language, she remains ever conscious of assimilation's perils: "But how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement?"
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.