Journey to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish Family by Elaine Kalman NavesJourney to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish Family by Elaine Kalman Naves

Journey to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish Family

byElaine Kalman Naves

Paperback | September 9, 1996

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Northeastern Hungary was full of places like the village of Vaja, where Jews had farmed for generations. Naves's ancestors had tilled Hungarian soil since the eighteenth century. They had married into similar farming families and maintained a lifestyle at once agricultural, orthodox, and Hungariophile. The Nyirség, a sandy, slightly undulating region wedged between the Great Hungarian Plain and the foothills of the Carpathians, was the centre of their world. But all this changed irrevocably with the holocaust; Naves's generation is the first in two centuries whose roots are severed from the soil that once nurtured them. Naves's quest for her past began with her father, one of the few members of a vast extended family to survive the Nazi death camps. His stories and memories of ancestors were a well-spring from which he drew strength, and they became an obsession for Naves as she was growing up and when she had children of her own. Journey to Vaja is her attempt to record the lives of these ancestors and reclaim their lives as part of her and her children's birthright. It incorporates myths and stories with family letters and detailed archival research to provide an extraordinary look at the landscape of memory and a testament to the redemptive power of love and family.
Elaine Kalman Naves is a writer and journalist living in Montreal. She is a columnist for the Montreal Gazette and is currently writing a radio documentary entitled ""Journey to Vaja"" for the CBC series Ideas. "
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Title:Journey to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish FamilyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.9 × 5.9 × 0.9 inPublished:September 9, 1996

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0773515348

ISBN - 13:9780773515345

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Reviews

From Our Editors

Northeastern Hungary was full of places like Vaja, a village where Jews had farmed for generations. Elaine Kalman Naves' ancestors had tilled the soil there for two centuries, maintaining agricultural, orthodox lifestyles. The Holocaust changed that irrevocably. Part autobiography, part family chronicle, part immigrant saga, Journey to Vaja is Naves' quest for her past, the story of her ancestors from the late 18th century to the German occupation in 1944. Incorporating myths and stories with family letters and archival research, it's an extraordinary look at the landscape of memory and the redemptive power of love and family.

Editorial Reviews

"A family history that is meticulously researched, rich in personal detail and an unusual resource for those seeking to build a bridge over the Holocaust between the world of pre-war European Jewry and contemporary Jewish life." Helen Epstein, author of Children of the Holocaust "Occupying a unique place between autobiography and fiction, Journey to Vaja is a haunting evocation of a world of the past and its presence in the present. It transcends time and place, moves back through centuries, and even transcends its own particular family to talk about the trials and pains of families, of people, of generations. It is a book about a daughter's love of her father and family and her ability to explore the past in order to understand the present." David Staines, Department of English, University of Ottawa. "Nowhere is the moral and political potential of the memoir form so well realized as in Elaine Kalman Naves's Journey to Vaja, in which she combines her personal memories of growing up the daughter of a holocaust survivor with the actual letters of her 'shadow family,' all of whom died in the wake of the last evil effort of the Nazi regime to destroy as many Jewish families as it could in the course of its own death throes. Naves's journey through her family's letters, more than any of the many fictionalized accounts I have seen or read of the holocaust, brought home to me the terrible individual suffering, compounded over millions of lives in a host of families, that has occurred in our times." Helen M. Buss, Prairie Fire. "A touching story of Naves's family history from the 1780s to our times. She travels through the emotional, historical-geographical terrain of two centuries, meticulously recording events and introducing family members, acquaintances, and the milieu of Hungary's historical times." George Gabori, author of When Evils Were Most Free. "A personal account of a kind that one encounters but rarely, this evocative story is told in remarkable detail and with empathy combined with a reassuring degree of objectivity. It complements usefully and poignantly the still-growing scholarly literature on the history of Jews in Hungary." Istvan Anhalt, Emeritus Professor, Music Department, Queen's University.