Columbus: Jane Lazarre on The Communist and the Communist's Daughter
Please join us Tuesday, September 26th at 7pm as Book Culture on Columbus and Harper's Magazine present The Communist and the Communist's Daughter by Jane Lazarre. She will be interviewed by Harper's editor James Marcus.
In a letter to his baby grandson, Bill Lazarre wrote that "unfortunately, despite the attempts by your grandpa and many others to present you with a better world, we were not very successful." Born in 1902 amid the pogroms in Eastern Europe, Lazarre dedicated his life to working for economic equality, racial justice, workers' rights, and a more just world. He was also dedicated to his family, especially his daughters, whom he raised as a single father following his wife's death. In The Communist and the Communist's Daughter Jane Lazarre weaves memories of her father with documentary materials--such as his massive FBI file--to tell her father's fascinating history as a communist, a Jew, and a husband, father, and grandfather.
Soon after immigrating to the United States as a young man, Lazarre began a long career as a radical activist, being convicted of sedition, holding leadership positions in the American Communist Party, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, organizing labor unions, testifying in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and resisting the FBI's efforts to recruit him as an informant. Through periods of heroism and deep despair Lazarre never abandoned his ideals or his sustained faith in the fundamental goodness of people.
This is also the story of Jane as she grew up, married an African-American civil rights activist, and became a mother and a writer while coming to terms with her father's legacy. She recounts her arguments with her father over ideology, but also his profound influence on her life. Throughout this poignant and beautifully written work, Jane examines memory, grief, love, and conscience while detailing the sacrifices, humanity, and unwavering convictions of a man who worked tirelessly to create a brighter future for us all.
Jane Lazarre is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons, Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery, and The Mother Knot, all also published by Duke University Press, as well as the novels Inheritance and Some Place Quite Unknown. She has won awards for her fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Lazarre founded and directed the undergraduate writing program at Eugene Lang College at the New School for ten years and taught creative writing and literature there for twenty years. She has also taught at the City College of New York and Yale University. Lazarre lives in New York City.
James Marcus is the editor of Harper's Magazine and the author of Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot-Com Juggernaut (2004) as well as seven translations from the Italian, the most recent being Giacomo Casanova's The Duel (2011). He forthcoming book is Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Emerson in Thirteen Installments.