Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Lillian Faderman

In this week's podcast, acclaimed scholar and award-winning author Lillian Faderman discusses the "reconstructed memoir" she recently published, My Mother's Wars. In My Mother's Wars, Faderman attempts to uncover the emotional truth of her mother's life. Faderman knew many facts and details about her mother, who withheld very little from her. She knew that her mother came to America from Latvia in 1914 hoping to go on the stage as a dancer, but that her American Dream devolved into a grimmer reality: long hours sewing in stuffy factories and boarding with strangers. She also knew her mother didn't expect to fall in love with a man who wouldn't marry her---even after she became pregnant. Although Faderman knew all these facts, she still somehow felt as though her mother remained, in part, a stranger. In My Mother's Wars, Faderman goes beyond biographical facts and makes an imaginative leap into the world that shaped her mother. With striking authenticity and a keen sense of history, Faderman reflects on her mother’s life as a Jewish immigrant inhabiting dance halls, factories, and picket lines, living through the growing hardships of the Great Depression, and a rising panic when her family in Latvia found itself in the path of Nazism's expanding reach. Although she began the book 20 years after her mother's death, writing the memoir allowed Faderman to finally see her mother not as a tragic figure, but as a hero.

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