Eva Hoffman: ‘somewhere between tongue and mind’

June 21, 2012

I mentioned Eva Hoffman’s book Lost in Translation here in April when it featured in a book spine poem, ‘Forest of Symbols’. John Cowan sang its praises in a comment, so I bumped it up the unread pile. I’m grateful for the prod – it’s the best book I’ve read in months.

Hoffman was a child when she and her family fled Poland for Canada, and later the U.S.; her book, subtitled Life in a New Language, is a memoir of this migration in three parts: Paradise, Exile, and The New World. In it she writes with grace and deep insight about her happy youth in Poland, her alienation across the Atlantic, and her gradual psychological and cultural integration into an English-speaking world.

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