In the Darkroom
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash, comes In the Darkroom, an astonishing confrontation with the enigma of her father and the larger riddle of identity consuming our age.
"In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things--obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness."
So begins Susan Faludi's extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father--long estranged and living in Hungary--had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who identified as "a complete woman now" connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who'd built his career on the alteration of images?
Faludi chases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father's many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful--and virulent--nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals.
Faludi's struggle to come to grips with her father's metamorphosis takes her across borders--historical, political, religious, sexual--to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you "choose," or is it the very thing you can't escape?
'AN OUT-AND-OUT MASTERPIECE' Observer 'An extraordinary act of love' Financial Times 'Candid and courageous, it's dizzyingly well written', Books of the Year, Sunday Times 'An absolute stunner of a memoir - probing, steel-nerved, moving in ways you'd never expect' New York Times 'Faludi's remarkable, moving and courageous book is extremely fair-minded' Guardian 'In the Darkroom reads like a mystery thriller yet packs the emotional punch of a carefully crafted memoir. Susan Faludi's investigation into her father's life reveals, with humour and poignancy, the central paradox of being someone's child. However close, our parents will always be, perhaps by nature of the role, fundamentally enigmatic to us.' Amanda Foreman 'Faludi weaves together these strands of her father's identity - Jewishness, nationality, gender - with energy, wit and nuance ... Faludi has paid her late father a fine tribute by bringing her to life in such a compelling, truthful story' New Statesman '[A] mighty new book ... a searching investigation of identity barely disguised as a sometimes funny and sometimes very painful family saga ... reticent, elegant and extremely clever ...an out-and-out masterpiece' Observer 'A fascinating chronicle of a decade trying to understand a parent who had always been inscrutable' Economist 'Compelling' Sunday Times Well-written ... touching ... compelling' The Times 'An astonishing, unique book that should be essential reading for anyone wanting to explore transsexuality's place in contemporary culture' Irish Independent "It's a gripping and honest personal journey...that ultimately transcends family and addresses much bigger questions of identity and reinvention." Entertainment Weekly 'In the Darkroom is a unique, deeply affecting and beautifully written book, full of warmth, intelligence and ... humour' The Saturday Paper