Daugh­ter of His­to­ry: Traces of an Immi­grant Girlhood

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

A pho­to­graph with faint writ­ing on the back, a trav­el­ing chess set, a sil­ver pin. 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 post­war refugee and Amer­i­can immigrant.

Hav­ing evad­ed depor­ta­tion to Auschwitz, but forced to flee Com­mu­nist rule in Hun­gary, Susan’s fam­i­ly set­tled in Chica­go, where she enjoyed a large­ly hap­py child­hood. As a teenag­er in the 1950s, she felt a strong deter­mi­na­tion to become 100% Amer­i­can.” But a post-col­lege year in Paris led her to appre­ci­ate how her Euro­pean Jew­ish roots and Amer­i­can­ness” can coexist.

In this com­ing-of-age sto­ry that probes the inter­gen­er­a­tional com­plex­i­ties of Jew­ish 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 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.

Discussion Questions