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 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?
"Stiffed is a brilliant, important book.. Faludi's reportorial and literary skills unfold with breathtaking confidence and beauty... She goes a long way toward eliminating the black and white, good and evil, male and female polarities that have riven the sexes in the past three decades..." –Time
In 1991, internationally renowned feminist journalist Susan Faludi ignited a revival of the women’s movement with her revelatory investigative reportage: Backlash was nothing less than a landmark, uncovering an “undeclared war” against women’s equality in the media, advertising, Hollywood, the workplace, and government—a war that is still being fought today.
Stiffed may be even more essential than Backlash to understanding the cultural riptides that led to Trumpian America. Here, Faludi turns her attention to the so-called “Angry Male” politics plaguing the nation. Through deeply researched, nuanced, and empathetic character studies of distressed industrial workers, laid-off aerospace engineers, combat veterans, football fans, evangelical husbands, suburban and inner-city teenage boys, and Hollywood and porn actors, Stiffed goes beyond the easy explanations of male misbehavior—that it’s driven by chromosomes or hormones—to lay bare the powerful social and economic forces that have shattered the postwar compact defining American manhood. Faludi’s vivid storytelling illuminates the historic and traumatic paradigm shift from a “utilitarian” manliness, grounded in civic and communal service, to an “ornamental” masculinity shaped by entertainment, marketing, and performance values.
Read in the light of Trumpian politics and the #MeToo movement, Faludi’s analysis speaks acutely to our present crisis, and to a foreboding future. Stiffed delivers a searing portrait of modern-day male America, and traces the provenance of a gender war that continues to rage, unabated.
“Brilliant.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“[Mahajan’s] eagerness to go at the bomb from every angle suggests a voracious approach to fiction-making.” —The New Yorker
For readers of Mohsin Hamid, Dave Eggers, Arundhati Roy, and Teju Cole, The Association of Small Bombs is an expansive and deeply humane novel that is at once groundbreaking in its empathy, dazzling in its acuity, and ambitious in scope
When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb—one of the many “small” bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world—detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb. After a brief stint at university in America, Mansoor returns to Delhi, where his life becomes entangled with the mysterious and charismatic Ayub, a fearless young activist whose own allegiances and beliefs are more malleable than Mansoor could imagine. Woven among the story of the Khuranas and the Ahmeds is the gripping tale of Shockie, a Kashmiri bomb maker who has forsaken his own life for the independence of his homeland.
Karan Mahajan writes brilliantly about the effects of terrorism on victims and perpetrators, proving himself to be one of the most provocative and dynamic novelists of his generation.
In this most original examination of America's post-9/11 culture, Susan Faludi shines a light on the country's psychological response to the attacks on that terrible day. Turning her acute observational powers on the media, popular culture, and political life, Faludi unearths a barely acknowledged but bedrock societal drama shot through with baffling contradictions. Why, she asks, did our culture respond to an assault against American global dominance with a frenzied summons to restore "traditional" manhood, marriage, and maternity? Why did we react as if the hijackers had targeted not a commercial and military edifice but the family home and nursery? Why did an attack fueled by hatred of Western emancipation lead us to a regressive fixation on Doris Day womanhood and John Wayne masculinity, with trembling "security moms," swaggering presidential gunslingers, and the "rescue" of a female soldier cast as a "helpless little girl"?
The answer, Faludi finds, lies in a historical anomaly unique to the American experience: the nation that in recent memory has been least vulnerable to domestic attack was forged in traumatizing assaults by nonwhite "barbarians" on town and village. That humiliation lies concealed under a myth of cowboy bluster and feminine frailty, which is reanimated whenever threat and shame looms.
Brilliant and important, The Terror Dream shows what 9/11 revealed about us—and offers the opportunity to look at ourselves anew.