Sunday, May 3 at 4:00 pm

Sunday Speaker Series: Dori Katz, Author of Looking for Strangers: The True Story of My Hidden Wartime Childhood

Katz-Looking for StrangersPlease join us on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (29 Main Street, Stockbridge) for a talk and book signing with Dori Katz, author of Looking for Strangers: The True Story of My Hidden Wartime Childhood.

Dori Katz is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who thought that her lost memories of her childhood years in Belgium were irrecoverable. But after a chance viewing of a documentary about hidden children in German-occupied Belgium, she realized that she might, in fact, be able to unearth those years. Looking for Strangers is the deeply honest record of her attempt to do so, a detective story that unfolds through one of the most horrifying periods in history in an attempt to understand one’s place within it.

In alternating chapters, Katz journeys into multiple pasts, setting details from her mother’s stories that have captivated her throughout her life alongside an account of her own return to Belgium forty years later—against her mother’s urgings—in search of greater clarity. She reconnects her sharp but fragmented memories: being sent by her mother in 1943, at the age of three, to live with a Catholic family under a Christian identity; then being given up, inexplicably, to an orphanage in the years immediately following the war. Only after that, amid postwar confusion, was she able to reconnect with her mother. Following this trail through Belgium to her past places of hiding, Katz eventually finds herself in San Francisco, speaking with a man who claimed to have known her father in Auschwitz—and thus known his end. Weighing many other stories from the people she meets along her way—all of whom seem to hold something back—she attempts to stitch thread after thread into a unified truth, to understand the countless motivations and circumstances that determined her remarkable life.

A story at once about self-discovery, the transformation of memory, a fraught mother-daughter relationship, and the oppression of millions, Looking for Strangers is a book of both historical insight and imaginative grasp. It is a book in which the past, through its very mystery, becomes alive, immediate—of the most urgent importance.

About the author: Dori Katz was born in Belgium in 1939 and came to the U.S. in 1952. She earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa and is currently Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages and Literature from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, where she taught French and Modern European Literature. She has published many of her poems and translations in anthologies, journals, and reviews, and has published a bi-lingual book of poetry, Hiding in Other People’s Houses, with her poems translated into Spanish. She has also translated several books from the French of Marguerite Yourcenar such as: Fires, The Coin in Nine Hands, and Selected Plays and a novel, Writing The Book of Esther by Henri Raczymow. Her memoir Looking for Strangers: The True Story of my Hidden Wartime Childhood was a finalist for an award from The National Jewish Book Council for 2013. She lives in New York City and spends her summers in Stockbridge.

$5 suggested donation. All proceeds benefit the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives.

Please note that this event will take place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (29 Main Street, Stockbridge).

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