Jewish ancestors escaping pogroms in turn-of-the century Russia, white plantation slave owners and black slaves in 17th century Barbados, coming of age in the literary-artistic mileu of 1980s Paris. Three authors discuss the challenges involved in their recently completed family memoirs.
In the award-winning What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past, Nancy K. Miller discovers the hidden lives of her Eastern European ancestors. Andrea Stuart’s forthcoming Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire, tells a story of greed and forbidden love among her slave-owning and enslaved ancestors. Alba Arikha’s newly published memoir Major/Minor, praised by Paul Auster as “an unusually affecting book about the rage and rebellion of a stormy adolescence,” delves into the past of her artist father and other family members who survived the Holocaust.
Nancy K. Miller is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York. Andrea Stuart is Writer in Residence at Kingston University and course director of the Faber Academy’s “Writing Family History” course. Alba Arikha is the author of two previous books, a translator of poetry and has recently recorded a CD of her own songs, “Dans Les Rues de Paris.”