Mixed Mes­sages: Reflec­tions on an Ital­ian Jew­ish Fam­i­ly and Exile

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2013

In post-World War II Amer­i­ca, who ever heard of an Ital­ian Jew? Author Eleanor Foa born in Italy raised in Amer­i­ca, daugh­ter of a bril­liant father, whose Ital­ian-Jew­ish roots trace back to 16th-cen­tu­ry print­ers, was proud of her exot­ic roots yet knew lit­tle about her lin­eage. In 2006, accom­pa­nied by her sis­ter, she retraces the foot­steps of their ances­tors through north­ern Italy and recon­nects with rel­a­tives in Turin, Naples, and Rome. It’s both a phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal jour­ney dur­ing which the past illu­mi­nates the present. 

Mixed Mes­sages is both a uni­ver­sal tale of exile, fam­i­ly and gen­er­a­tional con­flict, and the his­to­ry of a remark­able fam­i­ly whose suc­cess­es and tragedies mir­ror the flow­er­ing of Ital­ian Jew­ish life from the mid-fif­teen hun­dreds, to its dis­per­sal destruc­tion and par­tial res­ur­rec­tion dur­ing and after the rise of Fas­cism. It is also, in part, about the para­dox of being told fam­i­ly is every­thing” while grow­ing up with­out fam­i­ly, and the need to untan­gle a lega­cy of mixed mes­sages – about mar­riage, mon­ey, fideli­ty, religion,and iden­ti­ty – once her par­ents are gone.

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