The Legacy of Karen Gershon: Child Survivor to Author and Poet

In a variety of genres and narrative styles, author and poet Karen Gershon chronicled her European childhood, rescue on the Kindertransport, and life in the aftermath of the Holocaust, with unmatched candor and stunning insight. Based on Gershon’s private archives and letters to her sister, this biography presents a fascinating portrait of a child survivor whose talent for writing crowned her the voice of a whole generation. The major events of Gershon’s life are presented with great perspicacity alongside her development as a writer forced to change languages. Revealing the remarkable story of an English family largely unaware of their Jewish connection, struggling with immigration to Israel, inevitable conflicts and near tragedy. Gershon’s legacy relates to universal human themes: being a refugee, the search for a viable identity and sense of home, as well as the inevitable effects of inherited trauma. This book will be especially interesting to literary or historical scholars, those interested in the Holocaust, Jewish studies, and humanity in general.

An established British-Israeli author living in Israel, Dr Naomi Anne Shmuel has published 17 books, mostly for children (4 for adults). She has been awarded many literary and academic prizes, including the Levi Eshkol Prime Minister’s prize for literature (2011). Shmuel specializes in anti-bias education and training professionals for working with human diversity. Several of her publications provide practical resources for educators working with heterogenous classrooms in schools and academia. The findings of her research while at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on intergenerational relations and cultural transmission in Ethiopian immigrant families in Israel, were recently published by Springer: Children’s Wellbeing in Immigrant Families (2023). With several articles on the effects of the Holocaust on the second generation and postmemory, Shmuel’s recent research on her mother’s biography - child survivor, author and poet Karen Gershon - has been conducted while she was a research fellow at the Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, Bar Ilan University, Israel.

"Naomi Shmuel's fascinating and well-written biography of her mother, author and poet Karen Gershon, is a labor of love. Interweaving it with her mother's professional development as a poet and author, she presents a story that is rich in detail and dialogue, giving the reader a broad picture of the characters and their background. One cannot but marvel at the inner strength that kept Gershon going through all her tribulations, one that she left as a heritage to her descendants."

Prof. Judy Tydor (Baumel) Schwartz Director of The Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, Bar Ilan University, Israel.

"With compelling empathy, piercing candor, rigorous research, and eloquent precision, the psychological and social analysis of Shmuel’s biography guides us to understand Gershon’s rescue to England as an emotional and creative struggle. As this powerfully moving biography encourages us to understand, within Gershon’s fraught adolescence, marriage and parenting, and relentless challenges of being an outsider was her self-defining and sustaining desire to write. As Naomi Shmuel narrates so convincingly, what emerged from this desire is the major voice of the Kindertransport."

Professor Phyllis Lassner Northwestern University, USA

"This book is a tour de force and of immense importance today! The book is a must-read for both scholars and general readers interested in Holocaust studies, migration studies, and life writing."

Dr Bettina Hofmann Senior lecturer, English Department at the University of Wuppertal, co-editor of Translated Memories: Transgenerational Memories of the Holocaust.

"Naomi Anne Shmuel’s book does more than justice to Karen Gershon’s life and work. In a very clear and insightful way, showing both sensitivity and an ability to perceive deeply held notions, Shmuel shares with the reader Gershon’s heritage which will undoubtedly be remembered and relished by all future generations."

Dr Rony Alfandary Haifa University, Israel

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-0364-0613-X

ISBN13: 978-1-0364-0613-4

Release Date: 14th June 2024

Pages: 526

Price: £79.99