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Susan Rubin Suleiman at Harvard Book Store

May 30, 2023 @ 7:00 pm


May 30, 2023
7:00 pm
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Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States


Harvard Book Store
(617) 661-1515


Daughter of History:
Traces of an Immigrant Girlhood

in conversation with GISH JEN

Daughter of History: Traces of an Immigrant Girlhood

Harvard Book Store welcomes SUSAN RUBIN SULEIMAN—author of the acclaimed memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook—for a discussion of her new memoir Daughter of History: Traces of an Immigrant Girlhood. She will be joined in conversation by GISH JEN, award-winning author and Visiting Professor at Harvard University.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Daughter of History

A photograph with faint writing on the back. A traveling chess set. A silver pin. In her new memoir, noted scholar and author Susan Rubin Suleiman uses such everyday objects and the memories they evoke to tell the story of her early life as a Holocaust refugee and American immigrant. In this coming-of-age story that probes the intergenerational complexities of immigrant families and the inevitability of loss, Susan looks to her own life as an example of how historical events shape our private lives.

After the Nazis marched into Hungary in 1944, five-year old Susan learned to call herself by a Christian name, hiding with false papers in Budapest with her parents. While her relatives in the provinces would be among the 450,000 Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz, Susan’s close family survived and even thrived in the years following the war. But when the Communist Party took over Hungary, Susan and her parents emigrated to Chicago by way of Vienna, Paris, Haiti, and New York. In her adult life as a prominent feminist professor, she rarely allowed herself to think about these chapters of her past―but eventually, when she had children of her own, she found herself called back to Budapest, unlocking memories that would change the direction of her scholarship and career.

At the center of this richly textured memoir is a little girl who grows up happy despite the traumas of her early years, surrounded by a loving family. As a teenager in the 1950s, she is determined to become “100% American,” until a post-college year in Paris leads her to realize that her European roots and Americanness can coexist. At once an intellectual autobiography and a reflection on the nature of memory, identity, and home, Daughter of History invites us to consider how the objects that underpin our lives become gateways to our past.

Praise for Daughter of History

“A memoir of heart and soul, of ideas and intimations. On page after page, it reminds us that we think with the objects we love and we love the objects we think with. Compelling, sophisticated, accessible―it’s a gift.” ―Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor, author of Reclaiming Conversation and The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir

“Memoir writing, for Susan Rubin Suleiman, is a process of reconciliation. Daughter of History is a compelling journey reconciling intimate memories with the violent history of the twentieth century. The resilience that enables survival is everywhere visible in this story of a vivid writer and groundbreaking scholar who has turned her sharp analytic lens on her own life.” ―Marianne Hirsch, author of The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust

“In exquisitely detailing not only what she can remember but what she can’t―including, at one point, her own name―Susan Rubin Suleiman limns history’s mark on even her ability to feel. And yet that’s not the whole of her story: equally moving is the restorative power of literature. This is marvelous, riveting reading―courageous, insightful and inspiring.” ―Gish Jen, author of Thank You, Mr. Nixon and The Resisters