Other People's Houses by Lore Segal
With a foreword by Cynthia Ozick, this semiautobiographical novel of a Jewish girl forced away from home in the face of Nazi persecution is an extraordinary tale of fortitude and survival
On a December night in 1938, a ten-year-old girl named Lore is put on the Kindertransport, a train carrying hundreds of Jewish children out of Austria to safety from Hitler’s increasingly alarming oppression. Temporarily housed at the Dover Court Camp on England’s east coast, Lore will find herself living in other people’s houses for the next seven years: the Orthodox Levines, the Hoopers, the working-class Grimsleys, and the wealthy Miss Douglas and Mrs. Dillon.
Charged with the task of asking “the English people” to get her parents out of Austria, Lore discovers in herself an impassioned writer. In letters to potential sponsors, she details the horrors happening back at home; in those to her parents, she notes the mannerisms and reactions of the new families around her as she valiantly tries to master their language. And the closer the world comes to a new war, the more resolute Lore becomes to survive.
As powerful now as when it was first released fifty years ago, Other People’s Houses
is a poignant tale about the creation of a new life in the face of hopelessness and fear—a hallmark of the postwar immigration experience.
“An immensely impressive, unclassifiable book. On the surface it is an account of flight from the Nazis, of displacement and transplantation; but beneath that it contains an extraordinary rendering of the self.” —The New Republic
“A brilliant novel in the form of a memoir . . . [Lore Segal has] the sharp analytic eye of a born writer.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Great sensitivity, coolness, and charm . . . the keen innocent observation of the child’s-eye view.” —TheNew York Review of Books
“A unique document in narrative. It deals with experiences that none of us . . . can remember without shame for some of our fellow creatures; yet the book itself is light, easy, dry, and done with the detachment of a born storyteller.” —Alfred Kazin Lore Segal was born in Vienna in 1928, and was educated at the University of London. A finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,
Segal has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, two PEN/O. Henry Awards, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a fellowship at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A recognized author of children’s books, Segal has also written for the New Yorker,
the New York Times Book Review,
the New Republic,
and Harper’s Magazine
, among others. She lives in New York City.
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