Two memorable quotes:
"Outlasting the war didn't necessarily mean you'd survived." and,
"Storytelling is fundamental to resilience."
Unspeakable. In some Jewish families the holocaust is a constant presence, rarely discussed. Recently, Esther’s mother mentioned a shocking new bit of information. Esther’s father (now deceased) had a previous wife and daughter. Both were killed in a concentration camp. And, so begins the author’s journey of discovery.
“A beautiful exploration of collective memory and Jewish history.”—Nathan Englander
“Esther Safran Foer is a force of nature: a leader of the Jewish people, the matriarch of America’s leading literary family, an eloquent defender of the proposition that memory matters. And now, a riveting memoirist.”—Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic
Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of. The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching.
So when Esther’s mother casually mentions an astonishing revelation—that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust—Esther resolves to find out who they were, and how her father survived. Armed with only a black-and-white photo and a hand-drawn map, she travels to Ukraine, determined to find the shtetl where her father hid during the war. What she finds reshapes her identity and gives her the opportunity to finally mourn.
I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is the poignant and deeply moving story not only of Esther’s journey but of four generations living in the shadow of the Holocaust. They are four generations of survivors, storytellers, and memory keepers, determined not just to keep the past alive but to imbue the present with life and more life.
About the Author
Esther Safran Foer was the CEO of Sixth & I, a center for arts, ideas, and religion. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Bert. They are the parents of Franklin, Jonathan, and Joshua, and the grandparents of six.
“Part personal quest, part testament and all thoughtfully, compassionately written.”—The Washington Post
“A riveting search for the truth in a family where the Holocaust shines bright in the background of daily life.”—Parade
“The story is at once beautiful and heartrending, and sheds light on what happened after the war—an often overlooked aspect of the Holocaust experience.”—Library Journal
“A moving literary debut . . . a vivid testimony to the power of memory.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred revew)
“A skillfully written debut . . . Foer’s engrossing, well-researched family history will resonate with those curious about their own roots.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Esther Safran Foer is a natural storyteller—and what a story she has to tell! A tribute to human resilience, her family saga is full of heart and the breath of life. It is a perfect tonic for our cynical times. I loved it.”—Kati Marton, author of The Great Escape
“Stirring and inspiring, this remarkable book is a labor of love and hope. Esther Safran Foer goes on a brave journey abroad and into the past in search of unsettling family secrets buried in the horrible darkness created by Nazism. Her odyssey is both harrowing and heroic. When she returns, she can never see things in the same way, and neither can we. This book is a little triumph over fascism.”—Congressman Jamie Raskin
“I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is a beautiful exploration of collective memory and Jewish history, of Esther Safran Foer’s personal quest to find any trace of a murdered sister, to track down the family who saved her father, and to ensure that the names from her family’s past live on.”—Nathan Englander, author of kaddish.com
“Esther Safran Foer has written an honest, painful, and ultimately uplifting story of life after tragedy. This book is, above all else, the redemption song of her family and of her people. It should be read by everyone.”—Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic