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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash, comes In the Darkroom, an astonishing confrontation with the enigma of her father and the larger riddle of identity consuming our age.
“In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things—obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness.”
So begins Susan Faludi’s extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father—long estranged and living in Hungary—had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who identified as “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who’d built his career on the alteration of images?
Faludi chases that mystery into the recesses of her suburban childhood and her father’s many previous incarnations: American dad, Alpine mountaineer, swashbuckling adventurer in the Amazon outback, Jewish fugitive in Holocaust Budapest. When the author travels to Hungary to reunite with her father, she drops into a labyrinth of dark histories and dangerous politics in a country hell-bent on repressing its past and constructing a fanciful—and virulent—nationhood. The search for identity that has transfixed our century was proving as treacherous for nations as for individuals.
Faludi’s struggle to come to grips with her father’s metamorphosis self takes her across borders—historical, political, religious, sexual--to bring her face to face with the question of the age: Is identity something you “choose,” or is it the very thing you can’t escape?
Preface: In Pursuit 1
1. Returns and Departures 5
2. Rear Window 17
3. The Original from the Copy 29
4. Home Insecurity 37
5. The Person You Were Meant to Be 47
6. It’s Not Me Anymore 59
7. His Body into Pieces. Hers. 71
8. On the Altar of the Homeland 81
9. Ráday 9 103
10. Something More and Something Other 129
11. A Lady Is a Lady Whatever the Case May Be 147
12. The Mind Is a Black Box 165
13. Learn to Forget 179
14. Some Kind of Psychic Disturbance 203
15. The Grand Hotel Royal 221
16. Smitten in the Hinder Parts 235
17. The Subtle Poison of Adjustment 251
18. You’re Out of the Woods 271
19. The Transformation of the Patient Is Without a Doubt 299
20. Pity, O God, the Hungarian 325
21. All the Female Steps 345
22. Paid Up 359
23. Getting Away with It 371
24. The Pregnancy of the World 389
25. Escape 407