Kathleen Balgley: Letters To My Father

Time and date

Tuesday 11 July 2023

10:00 am

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Join us for a Coffee and Chat with author American writer Kathleen Balgley. From very early in her life, she yearned to know her family’s stories, the family’s ‘places’. Her father’s veiling of his birthplace and his Jewish identity, troubled her and drove her to learn about his former world. The winning of a Fulbright award to teach in Poland for a two-year period gave her the opportunity to explore her father’s family history. Her memoir Letters to My Father chronicles that journey to uncover her origins.

Kathleen will be in conversation with Sue Leonard

Admission: €12

Kathleen A. Balgley‘s memoir Letters To My Father begins with her childhood discovery of her father’s hidden Jewish identity and the prohibition of speaking of it in or outside the family. Disturbed by this uncharacteristic attitude of her otherwise unprejudiced parents, the author seeks to learn more about her own Jewish identity. Immersing herself in the historically terrorized heart of wartime Europe and the epicenter of Jewish suffering, she accepts a Fulbright to communist Poland just before the fall of the Berlin Wall (1987-1989). There she witnesses the ongoing controversy about Polish anti-Semitism, Poland’s collusion and heroism during WWII, and the history of its treatment of its Jews pre and post-war. In the state archives of Poland and Belarus, Balgley uncovers the lives (and deaths) of her relatives in her father’s birthplace in Brest, Belarus (formerly Brześc or Brest-Litovsk, Poland). Throughout the journey, bashert, (the Yiddish term for “destiny”) uncannily guides the author to uncover deeply hidden stories. Her father, who had said he would not travel to Poland to visit her, changes his mind after reading letters from his daughter about her discoveries. Touring the country together, father and daughter find a way to heal the rift between them.



Kathleen Balgley

Kathleen Balgley earned her Ph.D. in Literature from University of California, San Diego. During her academic career she was at different times Lecturer at UCLA Writing Programs, Associate Director of...

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Sue Leonard

A Journalist and Ghostwriter, Sue Leonard is the co-author of twelve books including two number one best-sellers. If Memory Serves Me Wrong, co-written with the former actor and Riverdance manager, Ronan...

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