Past Events

Past EventsWednesday, March 5

Innocence, Memory and Experience: Eva Figes and Ruth Kluger

Eva Figes
Ruth Kluger
Chair: Eva Hoffman

In this absorbing and brilliant session, Eva Hoffman explored the extraordinary narratives of two authors, their complex relationships with the women in their families and their different ways of coming to terms with a troubled and tragic past.

Landscapes of Memory, Ruth Kluger's memoir about her childhood spent in Nazi concentration camps, is also the story of her refusal to forget the past as an adult in the USA and an unflinching account of her difficult relationship with her mother. Eva Figes' book, Tales of Innocence and Experience, is a captivating exploration of the relationship between a grandmother and her grand-daughter. Figes explores both the sweetness of the relationship and the darker side of childhood jealousy and anger, fear of death and abandonment. Her own grandparents perished in the Shoah and her fairy-tale childhood in Berlin ended when, aged 7, she fled with her family to England in 1939.

The session was held in association with British Wizo.

"This is the problem with any kind of survival story, that you start writing these things in order to illustrate the horror and the destruction that you escaped from, and it ends up with the escape, and so there is a sort of an upbeat feeling to it which isn't intended, but yet you cannot get around it." [Ruth Kluger] "I found that, about five or six years ago, I suddenly could not think about anything else, and I know that as one gets older one tends to regress towards the past and the past gets more immediate. And you always think it happens to other people but not to you. I found that I could not think about anything else. I was crying a lot. In 1945 I did not cry at all. I realised that as I was a writer, I would have to do something with this material, and that is how it began." [Eva Figes]

Experience the event as it happened:


The JBW Newsfeed

Shana Tova to all those who are celebrating this week. A very happy new year from the team at Jewish Book Week!
Take advantage of our huge library of free audio talks by subscribing to our podcast feed. Download our podcasts
Jewish Book Week speaker David Grossman was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for his novel, A Horse
Jewish Book Week speaker Naomi Alderman has won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017 for her fourth novel, 
Hear Susan Suleiman discuss her book The Némirovsky Question (Yale University Press, 2017) with Ann Jefferson and


Jonathan Safran Foer discussing his novel Here I Am with Hephzibah Anderson at an out-of-festival event.