cover image Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Nora Krug. Scribner, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-982104-74-0

In this provocative search into her family history, Krug, a Gen X German and longtime U.S. resident, struggles to reconcile homesickness for a land of mystical forests and finely made products with the guilt she feels regarding her ancestor’s possible Nazi involvement. She cites the German saying “order is half your life’s battle” and takes a stereotypically German approach to a detailed process that might be called “restorative documentation” for justice. Krug delves deep into archives official and familial, from 1930s and ’40s German phone books to the Google street view of a Jewish retiree’s Florida residence. She hopes the latter can tell her whether her grandfather was a “true” Nazi or a sometimes-vocal critic who was strong-armed into joining the party to keep employed. The resulting scrapbook collage is as lush as it is meticulous, containing folk-art-style depictions of historical events, realistic illustrations, and photographs. Krug remarks on the taboo of talking about German gentile suffering as she relates the sad story of her uncle, killed at 18 in Italy, in whose shadow her father was born into grief. Like most obsessions, Krug’s yields limited results; some facts remain unknowable and some deeds irredeemable. But this work of stunning craftsmanship stands as a testament to speaking out as a necessary first step to healing. [em]Agent: Alex Jacobs, Cheney Agency (Oct.) [/em]