Shan­da: A Mem­oir of Shame and Secrecy

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

The word shan­da is defined as shame or dis­grace in Yid­dish. This book, Shan­da, tells the sto­ry of three gen­er­a­tions of com­pli­cat­ed, intense 20th-cen­tu­ry Jews for whom the desire to fit in and the fear of pub­lic humil­i­a­tion either drove their aspi­ra­tions or crushed their spir­it. In her deeply engag­ing, aston­ish­ing­ly can­did mem­oir, author and activist Let­ty Cot­tin Pogre­bin expos­es the fiercely­guarded lies and intri­cate cover­ups woven by dozens of mem­bers of her extend­ed fam­i­ly. Begin­ning with her own long­suppressed secret, the sto­ry spi­rals through the hid­den lives of her par­ents and rel­a­tives — reveal­ing the truth about their ori­gins, per­son­al trau­mas, mar­i­tal mis­ery, aban­doned chil­dren, reli­gious trans­gres­sions, sex­u­al iden­ti­ty, rad­i­cal pol­i­tics, and sup­pos­ed­ly embar­rass­ing ill­ness­es. While unmask­ing their cha­rades and dis­guis­es, Pogre­bin also show­cas­es her family’s remark­able tal­ent for rein­ven­tion in a nar­ra­tive that is, by turns, touch­ing, sear­ing, and sur­pris­ing­ly universal.

Shan­da is a beau­ti­ful med­i­ta­tion on the mys­ter­ies that fam­i­lies car­ry, and that, cumu­la­tive­ly, help shape a peo­ple.” — Yos­si Klein Halevi

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