In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi

76%

7 Critic Reviews

A compelling, exhausting, messy and provocative book, In the Darkroom seems like especially pertinent reading in these, our own dark times, when questions of identity keep coming to the fore, as matters of life and death.
-NPR

Synopsis

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?

 

About Susan Faludi

See more books from this Author
Susan Faludi is the author of Stiffed and Backlash, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among other publications. She lives in San Francisco.
 
Published June 14, 2016 by Metropolitan Books. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Gay & Lesbian, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for In the Darkroom
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg on Jun 16 2016

Penetrating and lucid as it is, Faludi’s book can’t answer this question. By the end, however, it seems less urgent, because Stefánie’s prickly, particular humanity comes to overshadow concern about categories.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Jun 12 2016

“In the Darkroom” is an absolute stunner of a memoir — probing, steel-nerved, moving in ways you’d never expect.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jun 15 2016

A compelling, exhausting, messy and provocative book, In the Darkroom seems like especially pertinent reading in these, our own dark times, when questions of identity keep coming to the fore, as matters of life and death.

Read Full Review of In the Darkroom | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Jun 12 2016

This book provides plenty of analyses with which to quarrel. But in telling her father’s story, Ms. Faludi is also adding a layer of complexity to this evolving canon of literature, and she’s doing it with typical brio.

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The Economist

Above average
on Jun 25 2016

Ultimately this book is an act of love, a way to get close to a parent who had always been remote. Months before dying in 2015, the elder Faludi read a draft. “I’m glad,” Stefánie said. “You know more about my life than I do.”

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Claire Harman on Jul 12 2016

It is the sad last chord of a painful story, for though Faludi’s remarkable, moving and courageous book is extremely fair-minded all the way through, she only ever finds the frailest signs of warmth in her larger-than-life parent.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Cooke on Jun 19 2016

Faludi’s book, a searching investigation of identity barely disguised as a sometimes funny and sometimes very painful family saga...

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Reader Rating for In the Darkroom
76%

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