'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 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 claimed to be 'a complete woman now' connect to the silent, explosive and ultimately violent father that 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 reinvented self 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 that you can't escape?
"As ground-breaking in its own way as its two important predecessors, Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Faludi's book is just as gripping." (Newsweek)
"Recommended as essential reading for both sexes." (Today)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Suswati on 28-01-17
Deeply moving, powerful account of identity
Susan Faludi's autobiographical bestseller juxtaposes feminist theory with the transgender change of her father who seems to reinforce gender stereotypes while attempting to establish her own identity.
Her father's confusion over what she believed to be 'female', at the same time denying an abusive past and surviving the holocaust, highlights the troubles of adopting another identity as a form of escape.
Faludi's attempt to understand her father, however, is deeply moving - trying to process her previous actions with her past and her present is an account that many can relate to. Her passion to find out the enigma that is her father is commendable and there were many times I shed a tear listening to this tale of much sorrow.
The reader is fantastic, especially reading in Hebrew and Hungarian. It really is a masterpiece of writing and will go down as an important piece of literature for this decade.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Tomi Metsdniemi on 11-08-16
a most unusual story
A great, unexpected story about identity, family, judaism, the war, Hungary. About being a daughter in the most unusual family. Lovingly told, a perceptive history of a man unknown to his daughter, turned into a woman seeking contact with the lost daughter. Perfectly performed.