Louise Steinman

Co-Director, Los Angeles Institute for Humanities, USC

“I had gone to Poland to learn hard truths and rescue hope,” writes Kathleen Balgley, an American literature professor, the daughter of an Irish Catholic mother and a Polish-Jewish father who distanced himself from his Jewish lineage. Balgley’s desire to reclaim that lost history propels her, as a Fulbright scholar, into the looking glass world of 1980’s communist-era Poland. Her soulful remembrance of that sojourn and her attempt to recover her family’s story—at a time in Poland when discussion of Polish-Jewish relations and Polish anti-Semitism were taboo—is honest, nuanced, haunting, at times hilarious. Letters to My Father is a rigorously researched, beautifully written tale about identity and belonging."