In the Darkroom

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PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE

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?

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About the author

Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of The Terror Dream, Stiffed, and Backlash, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, and The Baffler, among other publications.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Metropolitan Books
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Published on
Jun 14, 2016
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780805095999
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
Biography & Autobiography / LGBT
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER (The Globe and Mail)
 
Finalist for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction [2014]
Longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize [2014]

A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love.
 
Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario—especially to his wife and three children.
 
Alison’s father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe’s internal life was haunted by conflicting desires. As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe’s private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada.
 
Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is also the story of “coming out” as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent’s search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly “went in,” concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the “great straight things” they did together. Over time, Alison came to see that life with her father was surprisingly interesting and entertaining, even oddly inspiring, and in fact, there was nothing to hide.
 
Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a captivating tale of family life: deliciously imperfect, riotously challenging, and full of life’s great lessons in love. Alison brings her story to life with a skillfully light touch in this warm, heartfelt and revelatory memoir.
Bewildered, she exclaimed, Did she have psychological problems? I was stunned. I had just told my real estate agent I was selling my house because my wife left me nine months ago. A few years ago, we bought a house in the Akron area. My wife rode around town with this real estate agent looking for a home. When I told the agent she had left me, the she said, She talked you up so well, I honestly believed she thought you were a god! I replied, I used to be, but now Im a demon from Hades. Neither me or my wife had spoken to this agent before or since she sold us our house. Thats just a small sample of the paradox I had lived the previous twelve years. My first wife died, suddenly, leaving me alone with our seven year old boy. A year later, I married my second wife. Now, my second period of grieving was to begin. Through the course of the following pages you will cruise along the path of a man who laments the loss of his first wife and tries to make sense of life in general. Suddenly however, in the midst of the book, his present wife leaves him. This devastation twists the book into a peculiar direction as he expresses his grief in the loss of his second wife, then in Part III, tells his story of the agonies involved in living with a Borderline wife. In Part IV, the book produces evidence that convinces him she has Borderline Personality Disorder, then elaborates further on how it affected him and his son. Finally, in Part V, as an afterthought, he discusses the fact that he may be narcissistic after all and this narcissism may have drawn him to his BPD wife and helps explain how they stayed together for so long.
This 20th-anniversary edition of the extraordinary New York Times bestseller features a new introduction from the author!

"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.

National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award
Winner of the American Academy of Arts & Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award
Winner of the Bard Fiction Prize
One of the New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of the Year
One of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year
PEN Center USA Literary Award Finalist for Fiction
Simpson Family Literary Prize Finalist
Shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 
Longlisted for the FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award

Named a Best Book of the Year by: Buzzfeed, Esquire, New York magazine, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The AV Club, The Fader, Redbook, Electric Literature, Book Riot, Bustle, Good magazine, PureWow, and PopSugar

“Wonderful. . . . Smart, devastating, unpredictable. . . . I suggest you go out and buy this one. Post haste.” —Fiona Maazel, The New York Times Book Review

“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.

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author of Backlash—an unflinching dissection of the mind of America after 9/11

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.

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