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Lost in Translation


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It is one of those books, like the very best of travel writing, that hits a nely discovered nerve and takes a few steps further towards civilising the planet' Guardian

About the Author

Eva Hoffman was born in Cracow, Poland and emigrated to America at the age of thirteen. The recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award and an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she currently lives in London.


Daughter of Holocaust survivors, the author, a New York Times Book Review editor, lost her sense of place and belonging when she emigrated with her family from Poland to Vancouver in 1959 at the age of 13. Although she works within a familiar genre here, Hoffman's is a penetrating, lyrical memoir that casts a wide net as it joins vivid anecdotes and vigorous philosophical insights on Old World Cracow and Ivy League America; Polish anti-Semitism; the degradations suffered by immigrants; Hoffman's cultural nostalgia, self-analysis and intellectual passion; and the atrophy of her Polish from disuse and her own disabling inarticulateness in English as a newcomer. Linguistic dispossession, she explains, ``is close to the dispossession of one's self.'' As Hoffman savors the cadences and nuances of her adopted language, she remains ever conscious of assimilation's perils: ``But how does one bend toward another culture without falling over, how does one strike an elastic balance between rigidity and self-effacement?'' (Jan.)

Born in Poland shortly after World War II, Hoffman emigrated to Canada with her parents in 1959. Gifted both as a writer and a musician, Hoffman succeeded enough in her ``second'' culture to win scholarships to Rice and Harvard and to become a published author in her adopted language and a New York Times editor. But, as this perceptive and moving memoir demonstrates, no matter how successful the adaptation to a new culture, the immigrant experiences loss as well as gain. Hoffman makes one feel intensely the pain of an abrupt rupture with one's culture and native language, as well as the difficulties of adjusting to a new idiom. Recommended for public and college libraries. Ann. H. Sullivan, Tompkins Cortland Community Coll . , Dryden, N.Y.

"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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