Belonging

Memories and meanderings in Middle Europe

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  • Published 20200804
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-50-4
  • Extent: 304pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WE’RE ALL PART of a family, and often more than one. Even without kids, I turn up on several family trees, albeit as a cryptic and peripheral mention. But what bare bones family trees show: only dry lineage, not the hot pressure of relations. Those thin black lines connecting partners and progeny give nothing away. Better to map circles of influence, radiating colours and casting shadows, with bold connections that pulsate with anger and laughter, and spidery traces that hint at longing and regret carried across generations.

MEMORIES. JACK AND I marvel at how our disparate trajectories brought us together, but though we come from opposite sides of the globe, our backstories are not dissimilar. Refugees from Old World to New, both families emanated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from either side of the Alps. We share a cuisine, a taste for goulash, sauerkraut, onions in our potato salad, caraway seeds, fat dill pickles and plenty of mustard. But while both families fled their homelands, mine steamed across the ocean to America in first-class cabins, en masse, just before World War II. They enjoyed the luxury of selecting their asylum from a position of advantage and foresight. Jack’s parents took a different route, an impromptu escape on foot across a mountainous border one bitter winter’s night. Young survivors, they embarked on the long voyage to Australia in steerage, leaving behind parents and siblings in a decimated land.

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About the author

Roberta Esbitt

Roberta Esbitt is an architect and university lecturer, with professional experience across three continents.

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