MIXED MESSAGES WITH ELEANOR FOA

12/09/2019 - 6:00pm

Monday, December 9

6pm

Eleanor Foa Dienstag in conversation with Meryl Gordon


In post-World War II America, who ever heard of an Italian Jew? No one. Journalist and author Eleanor Foa, born in Italy, raised in America, daughter of a brilliant father whose Italian-Jewish roots trace back to 16th-century printers, was proud of her exotic roots, yet knew little about her lineage. In 2006, accompanied by her American born sister, she retraces the footsteps of their ancestors through northern Italy (Soragna, Cortemaggiore, Sabbioneta, Parma) and reconnects with living relatives in Turin, Naples, and Rome. It’s both a physical and psychological journey during which the past illuminates the present. Retrospectively, the author’s close relationship with her Italian-born father, and her younger sisters’ with their German-born mother highlight complex family dynamics, hinting at what was talked about and what remained unsaid. 

Mixed Messages is both a universal tale of exile, family, and generational conflict and the history of one specific and remarkable family whose successes and tragedies mirror the flowering of Italian Jewish life from the mid-fourteen hundreds to its dispersal, destruction and partial resurrection, during and after the rise of Fascism.

A beautifully written multilayered story, the book offers surprises and discoveries at every turn. Part road trip and part family history, the book ultimately addresses the process of activating memory through the resonance of places, people and personal entanglements.

 Eleanor Foa is an author, journalist, photojournalist and corporate writer. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and websites, ranging from The New York Times, Harper’s, Ms., and The New Republic to Woman Around Town and Women’s Voices For Change. She is the author of Whither Thou Goest: The Story of An Uprooted Wife (E.P. Dutton, 1976), which is both a feminist memoir and business story, and In Good Company (Warner Books, 1994), a history of the H.J. Heinz Company. She  the president of Eleanor Foa Associates, past president of the American Society of Authors and Journalists (ASJA), and received literary residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA).

Meryl Gordon is the author of the New York Times bestselling Mrs. Astor Regrets and Phantom of Fifth Avenue, a Wall Street Journal bestseller. She is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor to Vanity Fair. She is on the graduate journalism faculty at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is considered an expert on “elder abuse” and has appeared on NPR, CNN and other outlets whenever there is a high-profile case.


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