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.
"A deep and lovely book. The author manages to capture the very essence of exile experience, in beautifully human terms against a background of keen and searching intellect. This is how tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people felt in this century. Eva Hoffman speaks movingly for all of them" (Josef Skvorecky, author of The Engineer of Human Souls)
"Eva Hoffman's elegant and elegaic autobiography is something different... It is the story...of a paradise lost but regained...a tender and memorable book" (Independent
"Hoffman takes her experience into the realms of universality, expressing herself in a way which has echoes and points of recognition for others who leave their history, their roots, their known identity adn must try to recreate themselves in another culture... An exquisite feast" (Angela Neustatter Literary Review
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