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Opa Nobody
$24.95
Hardcover
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BOOK DETAILS

Sonya gives an overview of the book:

It had come to this: breastfeeding her screaming three-month-old while sitting on the cigarette-scarred floor of a union hall, lying to her husband so she could attend yet another activist meeting, and otherwise actively self-destructing. Then Sonya Huber turned to her long-dead grandfather, the family “nobody,” for help. Huber’s search for meaning and resonance in the life of her grandfather Heina Buschman was unusual insofar as she knew him only through dismissive family stories: He let his wife die of neglect . . . he used his infant son as a decoy when transporting anti-Nazi literature in a baby carriage . . . and so the stories went. What she actually discovered was that, like his granddaughter, Heina Buschman was a committed and beleaguered activist whose story echoed her own. Huber’s research not only conjured her grandfather’s voice in answer to many of the...
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It had come to this: breastfeeding her screaming three-month-old while sitting on the cigarette-scarred floor of a union hall, lying to her husband so she could attend yet another activist meeting, and otherwise actively self-destructing. Then Sonya Huber turned to her long-dead grandfather, the family “nobody,” for help.

Huber’s search for meaning and resonance in the life of her grandfather Heina Buschman was unusual insofar as she knew him only through dismissive family stories: He let his wife die of neglect . . . he used his infant son as a decoy when transporting anti-Nazi literature in a baby carriage . . . and so the stories went. What she actually discovered was that, like his granddaughter, Heina Buschman was a committed and beleaguered activist whose story echoed her own. Huber’s research not only conjured her grandfather’s voice in answer to many of the questions that troubled her but also found in his story a source of personal sustenance for herself. Based on extensive research and documentation, this story of Heina Buschman offers a rare look into the heart of the “average” socialist trying to survive the Nazis and rebuild a broken world. Alternating with his voice is Huber’s own, providing a rich and moving counterpoint that makes this deeply personal exploration of family, politics, and individual responsibility a story for all of us and for all time.

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From Ch. 1: "The Intuition of History"

 

Why try to change the world?

Dear Opa, grandfather, Heina Buschmann: I knelt down in the reference section of a Midwestern American library, beat-tired, already late for another damn political meeting at a cheap Chinese restaurant. I tried to conjure you instead. Come on, socialist, anti-Nazi, German, man I’d never met, tell me how to live without fear. “Life-long activist” reads so cool in the history books. But the family hardly mentions your name now, so bitter toward the man with the agendas and the pamphlets stuffed in his pockets, the distracted look on his round, sleepy face. You were no inspiration to me, growing up in a Republican small town as a Chicago south-side mallrat turned shaved-head anarchist. I didn’t even know your stories, but then I seemed to turn weird and angry as if an underground tide pulled my blood in that direction. But we don’t believe in those blood stories, do we, Opa?

There is no answer. I know a few stories: where they lived, the coal mines, the organizing, the coal dust, the sickness and the political turmoil. And so I imagine his beginnings, the seed of him.

 

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Sonya

Sonya Huber is an award-winning creative writer, journalist, and teacher whose work has appeared and is forthcoming in many magazines, literary journals, anthologies, and other publications, including Fourth Genre, Sports Literate, Passages North, McSweeney's...

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Published Reviews

Feb.18.2008

“[S]harp human insights on the omnipresent moral complications of living in Nazi Germany make this a worthwhile read. . . . [A] unique, imaginative take on the family memoir.”

May.24.2008

“In every chapter, [Huber] weaves stories of her activist life with richly imagined scenes of her grandfather, reconstructing his life from anecdotes and documentary evidence. . . . By connecting with...