Now a bit about the book.
Eva Hoffman was thirteen years old when, in 1949, she left Poland with her father, mother, and younger sister, traveling by ship to Canada, where the family settled in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Hoffmans had been among the small remnant of Jews in Poland after World War II, and they were never allowed to forget completely the irrational power of anti-Semitism. The family’s early years in Canada were hard–they began by selling second-hand merchandise (“junk,” Hoffman calls it) from a basement, later opening a store–but Eva excelled in high school and went on a scholarship to Rice University, where she majored in literature. She was an excellent pianist as well, and for a long time she considered a career in music, but ultimately, after receiving a doctorate in literature from Harvard University, she became a journalist, specializing in literary and cultural subjects; she is currently an editor at THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW.