- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st Edition edition (June 14, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080508908X
- ISBN-13: 978-0805089080
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 136 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Darkroom Hardcover – June 14, 2016
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“This book is a masterpiece.”
“In the Darkroom is an absolute stunner of a memoir―probing, steel-nerved, moving in ways you’d never expect. Ms. Faludi is determined both to demystify the father of her youth―‘a simultaneously inscrutable and volatile presence, a black box and a detonator’―and to re-examine the very notion and nature of identity.”
―The New York Times (daily review)
“Penetrating and lucid . . . In the Darkroom is Faludi’s rich, arresting, and ultimately generous investigation of her father.”
―The New York Times Book Review (front page)
“A searching investigation of identity barely disguised as a sometimes funny and sometimes very painful family saga. . . .Faludi is a mercilessly droll and careful writer. The emotional incontinence and narcissism that pass for insight and power in memoirs these days is not for her. . . .All the same, I cried quite often as I read her book, and at [one] point, I had to go off and stare at some flowers for a while. . . . An out-and-out masterpiece of its kind.”
―The Guardian (UK)
“Faludi's remarkable, moving and courageous book is extremely fair-minded all the way through.”
―The Guardian, (U.S. edition)
“It’s a gripping and honest personal journey―bolstered by reams of research―that ultimately transcends family and addresses much bigger questions of identity and reinvention.”
“Many great writers eventually turn to biography, but rarely does it so directly crash into their lifelong intellectual pursuits. . . . very few can dissect a prevailing cultural norm as well as Faludi can.”
―The Washington Post
“In this riveting book about a very complicated subject, Ms. Faludi . . . does a remarkable job tracking down the truth about her father, a person of multiple and contradictory identities . . . Ms. Faludi unfolds her father’s story like the plot of a detective novel.”
―The Wall Street Journal
“Moving . . . In the Darkroom is Faludi’s emotionally harrowing quest to understand her dad
. . . Faludi presents her father’s surgery in the context of a complicated, lifelong, protean search for identity.”
“Faludi’s eloquent, timely, and sweeping-yet-intimate new book . . . is a mash-up of genres and themes about family secrets, masculinity and femininity, feminism, violence, the Holocaust, taking revenge. Knitting it all together are questions of identity: Who?or what?makes us who and what we are? How immutable is the end result?”
“In the Darkroom is an intensely personal journey for Faludi, and despite the intimate subject matter, she never loses her reportorial edge. . . . Through [her father’s] experiences, Faludi explores the larger questions of transgender politics and sexual identity in a nation whose past has detrimentally shaped its present. In the process, the hard-nosed reporter and feminist is forced to reevaluate the identity she has built as retaliation against an abusive and domineering father.”
“Wow. Susan Faludi's new book is so good. Like a really dry martini. Pow!”
―The Observer (UK)
“Astonishing, unique . . . should be essential reading.”
―The Irish Independent
“A classic autobiographical quest. . .Especially pertinent reading in these, our own dark times, when questions of identity keep coming to the fore, as matters of life and death.”
―NPR, Fresh Air (Maureen Corrigan)
“Ultimately this book is an act of love . . . a fascinating chronicle of a decade spent trying to understand a parent who had always been inscrutable.”
―The Economist (UK)
“Susan Faludi weaves together these strands of her father’s identity – Jewishness, nationality, gender – with energy, wit and nuance. . . . It is rare to read anything about anti-Semitism or transgender issues that works so hard to forgo polemic in favour of understanding. . . . Faludi has paid her late father a fine tribute by bringing her to life in such a compelling, truthful story.”
―New Statesman (UK)
“Impressive. . .Sometimes reality delivers up not just a remarkable story, but a remarkable story containing a set of parallel motifs that seem too absurdly perfect to be credible. . .the epic battle, and eventually the epic rapprochement, between Susan and [her father] Stefánie?an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. . . .As impossible as her father is, Susan comes to recognize and feel compassion for the bewildering and titanic forces, inside and out, that batter Stefánie’s psyche.”
“A wrought and multi-layered memoir . . . Powerful and absorbing.”
―Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Moving and penetrating . . . A gripping exploration of sexual, national, and ethnic identity.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Extraordinary: part riveting family memoir, part revelatory Holocaust history, but most of all a profound meditation on human identity. . . . In the Darkroom is nothing if not timely. It is also highly significant. . . .We live in an age overflowing with bitter battles over identity?with too little of Susan Faludi’s humane desire to understand.”
―National Book Review
“A record of Stefanie Faludi's extraordinary life, and an unsettling interrogation of that modern obsession, identity. . . .Few have asked these questions with such riveting precision.”
―The Spectator (UK)
“In the Darkroom is a unique, deeply affecting and beautifully written book, full of warmth, intelligence and. . .humour. It makes a flawless weave of biography and autobiography with an examination of identity politics, Hungarian history, the Holocaust and the reparable bond between parent and child.”
―The Saturday Paper (Australia)
About the Author
Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of The Terror Dream, Stiffed, and Backlash, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, and The Baffler, among other publications.
Top customer reviews
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I've always been intrigued by Buda Pest ever since I read John Lukacs "Budapest 1900" a book that Faludi mentions in her text. She spends time exploring the city in which her father grew up, and for anybody trying to understand how this once backwater city came to rival Paris for a brief time prior to WWI you could not read a better book.
I do not disagree with the reviewer who makes the point that Faludi's father tried to get her to write "his" side of the story. However I also think that while it would have been impossible for the author to uncover all of his deceptions, she creates enough of a sense of Stephen/Stephanie so that we know that there was no way anybody -- not even this gifted journalist -- could uncover the entire story. An amazing book.
Istvan Friedman seemed to be a man who lived a life with few "constants". Born of Jewish parents in inter-war Hungary, he was not close to his parents, though he rescued them in 1944 in Budapest when they had been taken by the Arrow Cross. After living through WW2, he touched down in Copenhagen and Brazil before settling in New York City, where he changed his name to Steven Faludi, married and raised a family in 50's, 60's, before being divorced in the mid-1970's. Susan's home life while growing up with him in the house was volatile, to say the least. Father and daughter split for many years after Susan became an adult and Steven moved back to Budapest. In 2004, she received an email saying that "Steven Faludi" was now "Stephanie Faludi" - her father had had a sex-change operation in Phuket, Thailand. In the years between 2004 and Stephanie's death, Susan and her father tried to understand each other. She spent time with him in Budapest, where the two wandered the city as Susan attempted to recreate her father's life in understandable fashion.
From my reading of the memoir, Stephanie Faludi seemed to be a person in a lifelong search of his identity. Was he Jewish? He married a Jewish woman in a temple, but raised his two children without much Jewish knowledge; instead celebrating with a passion the major Christian holidays. Was he a man or a woman? Was he a Hungarian, despite the persecution Jews in Hungary had long endured? Even the title of the book, "In the Darkroom", which alludes to Steven Faludi's career in photography and to the Photoshop-like changes he was able to make to pictures, also seems to refer to the permutations he makes to his life.
Susan Faludi's book is about many things. Assimilation, the trans-gender movement, father-daughter relationships, even the history of Hungary. But most of all it is a story of a daughter trying to understand a father, who is trying to understand himself. It's a beautifully written book.