About Time I Read It: In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi

When I came across Susan Fuladi’s memoir In the Darkroom at the public library one Saturday morning I didn’t know a lot about it, other than it had been highly praised by reviewers and some way or another dealt with life in Hungary. Since I could use a book set in or a about Hungary for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge, and having fond memories of Faludi’s 1991 outstanding work Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, I decided to take a chance on it. After reading only a few pages I’m thankful I did. Her 2016 memoir is outstanding, easily exceeding my expectations

Imagine you haven’t spoken to your father in decades, and for good reason because you remember all too well he was an abusive jerk throughout your childhood. Then one day out of the blue you receive an email from him letting you know he’s living thousands of miles away in Hungary and would like to reconnect with you after all these years. This awkward situation becomes even more challenging once he informs you he’s now a woman. Susan Faludi’s quest to understand her estranged father’s radical transformation takes her from America to Hungary, where her father was born, survived the Holocaust and as a young adult fled Communist rule. As Faludi recalls her father’s life and her relationship with him, she also explores the history of Hungary, including the horrors of the Holocaust, post-war Communist oppression and eventual embrace of Western-style democracy and free market capitalism, albeit tainted of late by the emergence of reactionary political leadership.

This is a surprising good book and even though it’s early in the year there’s a good chance In the Darkroom will wind up on my Best Nonfiction List of 2019. I have no problem recommending it.

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3 Comments

Filed under Current Affairs, Eastern Europe/Balkans, Europe, History, Memoir

3 responses to “About Time I Read It: In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi

  1. Great review! I’m glad you liked this one so much. I read it the year after it came out (I think it was) and it exceeded my expectations by far. I thought it was just phenomenal. I haven’t read Backlash but was looking at it after enjoying this book, sounds like it’s a worthwhile read too?

    • Thanks! If I’d known In the Darkroom was that good I’d read it sooner. A great character study of both her father and the nation of Hungary.
      Give Backlash a try. I think you’ll like it.

  2. Pingback: 2018 European Reading Challenge Wrap-Up | Maphead's Book Blog

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