Award-winning novelist Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) and memoirist Elisabeth H. Breslav will discuss their experiences coming of age in a warzone during World War II in a free reading at Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan on January, 13 at 7 p.m.
Both women just published book chapters in a new collection of first-hand stories entitled That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone, an anthology of essays from around the globe. The book is perhaps the first anthology of essays by writers describing what it’s like to be a child enduring the insanity of war.
As a Dutch child during World War II, Breslav lived through the Nazi occupation of Holland and survived the “Hunger Winter,” the extension of the occupation to 1945 in parts of Holland that grew from the November 1944 Allied defeat profiled in the epic A Bridge Too Far.
While there are numerous first-person accounts of the Holocaust, there is a dearth of English-language writings about the Nazi occupation of Europe from the perspective of those non-Jews who suffered through it. Theirs is a story that a dwindling number of survivors can tell, simply because of their advancing age. Breslav’s contribution to That Mad Game is an excerpt from her as yet unpublished memoir on the topic.
Activist Marnie Mueller was born to white parents in one of California’s Japanese internment camps during World War II. She experienced first-hand the displacement and identity issues created by the U.S. government’s silence about the internment camps for several decades after the war.
Although there are now memoirs and history books about the camps, Mueller’s story is unique. She was the daughter of activists horrified by the moral and political implications of the camps, who worked as advocates for the people imprisoned there. While Mueller’s life was shaped by her parents’ work to right racial injustices, it was also marked by the unstated but explosive tension between them. Mueller’s father was a conscientious objector for military service and failed to address the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe-despite the fact that his wife, Mueller’s mother, was Jewish.
Together, Mueller’s and Breslav’s recollections of their childhood experiences offer compelling personal perspectives on World War II and its aftermath in both Europe and the United States.
Published by the independent publishing company Cinco Puntos Press, That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone, an anthology of essays from around the globe, is edited by J.L. Powers, and includes seventeen highly personal, reflective essays focusing on conflicts of recent history including in Vietnam; Cambodia; Bosnia; Rwanda; Juárez, Mexico; El Salvador; South Africa; Afghanistan; Iran; China; Burma; and Thailand.
Kirkussummarizes the book as: “War’s most vulnerable victims, stepping up to have their say.”
J.L. Powers’ introduction establishes the terrible cost to children caused by modern warfare, and describes the common legacy we inherit from our unending human need to battle and kill one another. Short prefaces before each essay situate the reader to time, place and political context.
That Mad Gameincludes exclusive essays from up-and-coming Middle Eastern writers Alia Yunis, Qais Akbar Omar and Aria Minu-Sepehr. Omar’s memoir about growing up in Kabul, A Fort of Nine Towers(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), is set to be released in 2013. Minu-Sepehr’s memoir about growing up in Iran during the Revolution, We Heard the Heavens Then(Simon and Schuster), was released in 2012.
That Mad Gamealso includes essays by Mexican activist Fito Avitia, who writes from the frontlines of the cartel war in Juárez, Mexico, about raising two daughters amid the carnage of a gruesome and bloody resource war-the fight to control drug trafficking corridors between the U.S. and Mexico. From Vietnam to Rwanda, from the U.S. to Mexico, each essay details the grief of displacement. Yet, in the words of School Library Journal, “the humor, beauty, and humanity shining through the darkness are what make this collection a must-have.”
With roots on the U.S./Mexico border, Cinco Puntos publishes “great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.” The Texas-based independent, family-owned publisher was founded in 1985 and has published some 130 books.