Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka
A Quest for Jewish Identity in Contemporary Poland: Agata Tuszyńska’s Family History
A Family History of Fear1 by Agata Tuszyńska is an emotional story written in order to come to terms with a double, Jewish-Polish legacy. Published in 2005, the book became a bestseller; not only did it receive positive reviews, but it was also nominated for the Prix Medicis.
According to many critics, Tuszyńska’s narrative book is one of the most important testimonies of the Jewish-Polish experience after World War II (Wróbel). This combination of biography, family saga and confession is a rare example of personal non-fiction in Polish literature, where “there are still very few literary works of that kind”2 (Sitek). Ryszard Kapuściński praised the author for her courage in writing an important chapter in the story of Polish-Jewish relations, and for her thoughtful reflection on the problem of the Otherness (Rev. of). Reviewers complimented “the innovative structural approach” (Radgowski), “honesty” (Dobrołęcki) and its “effort to present the complex truth about pre- and post-war interconnections between Jews and Poles” (Bratkowski).
The book met with an enthusiastic reception from readers, and Tuszyńska received hundreds of positive e-mails and letters. Certainly, such a response is a sign of the emotional weight and importance of the subject. The painful past of Polish-Jewish families has still not been worked through; the traumatic experience of anti-Semitism has prevented many from admitting their Jewish roots. Although the book reconstructs the history of one particular family, there are many more similar stories in...
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