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.
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.
About the author:
Susan Rubin Suleiman PhD ’69 is professor emerita of French and comparative literature at Harvard University. Her many books include Crises of Memory and the Second World War and the memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook. She has won many honors, including France’s highest award, the Légion d’Honneur. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.