Author Talk Ellis Island: A People’s History
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Time: 12:00 PM-1:30 PM
Online, RSVP here.
This event is presented in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.
In her new book, Malgorzata Szejnert, arguably Poland’s greatest living writer, provides a dramatic, multi-vocal account of the agonies and ecstasies that played out in the walls of Ellis Island. This is a history of those who came, and those turned away, weaving together the personal experiences of the forgotten and remembered, as well the doctors, nurses, commissioners, interpreters, social workers, and chaperones who controlled the fates of the émigrés—often basing their decisions on pseudo-scientific ideas about race, gender, and disability. Brought to life by a master storyteller, it is a compelling new social history of an iconic place that reshaped the United States, focused on allowing the people to speak for themselves.
More information about the book here.
For forty years, Malgorzata Szejnert (b. 1936) has been one of Poland’s most important nonfiction writers and editors, shaping a generation of Polish literary reportage. She began writing about challenging social issues in the 1970s, and was an active member of the opposition during the Solidarity period. After the fall of Communism, she co-founded Poland’s leading daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and led its reportage division for 15 years. Since retiring, she has devoted herself entirely to book writing. Her topics range from Poland to America to Zanzibar, always with a warm, personal focus, allowing marginalised people to speak for themselves through her work.
Sean Gasper Bye, a translator of Polish, French, and Russian literature and winner of the 2016 Asymptote Close Approximations Prize, joins in discussion.
Lead image: Małgorzata Szejnert. Image courtesy of Culture.pl