Finding My Father: His Century-Long Journey from World War I Warsaw—and My Quest to Follow

Deborah Tannen. Ballantine, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-101-88583-3
Tannen (You Just Don’t Understand) examines the life of her father in this passionate memoir. A giant in her life (“he’s the parent I felt an affinity with, the one who understood me”), Eli Tannen possessed an even temper that masked an unhappy past. He emigrated from Poland to New York City in 1920 and quit school at 14 to support his mother and sister. He eventually went to college and earned a law degree during the Depression, but couldn’t find work as a lawyer for nearly 30 years, when he started a legal practice in support of worker’s compensation. To support his wife (who thought he was ugly and grew to dislike him) and family, he held various jobs, including as a prison guard and garment cutter. He was a prolific letter writer; Tannen notes, “my inclination to write traced to my father.” From him she “learned to listen for unspoken meanings in people’s conversations.” While visiting him in her parents’ Westchester condo, she uncovers letters detailing her father’s relationship with another woman just before his marriage. She then speculates what his life might have been, concluding, “She was better suited to my father... a kind, compassionate intellectual.” Tannen’s readers will appreciate this tender-hearted paean to her father. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2020
Release date: 06/02/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-101-88584-0
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