My Seven Lives
Jana Juráňová in Conversation with Agneša Kalinová
456 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 49 Illustrations
456 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 49 Illustrations
- 9781612497204 | Published: October 2021
- 9781612497198 | Published: October 2021
My Seven Lives is the English translation of the best-selling memoir of Slovak journalist Agneša Kalinová (1924–2014): Holocaust survivor, film critic, translator, and political prisoner. An oral history written with her colleague Jana Juráňová, My Seven Lives provides a window into Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the cultural evolution of Central and Eastern Europe. The conversational approach gives the book a relatable immediacy that vividly conveys the tone and temperament of Agneša, bringing out her lively personality and extraordinary ability to stay positive in the face of adversity.
Each chapter reflects a distinct period of Agneša's long and tumultuous life. Her idyllic childhood gives way to the rise of Nazism and restrictions of the anti-Jewish legislation, which led to deportations and her escape to Hungary, where she found refuge in a Budapest convent. Surviving the Holocaust, she returned to Slovakia and married writer Ján Ladislav Kalina. They embraced communism, and Agneša began her career as a journalist and film critic and became involved in the Prague Spring, ending with the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Agneša and her husband lost their jobs and were imprisoned, which led to their decision to immigrate to West Germany. She found a new career as a political commentator for Radio Free Europe, and after decades of political oppression, Agneša lived to see the euphoric days of the Velvet Revolution and its freeing aftermath.
My Seven Lives shows the impact of an often brutal twentieth century on the life of one remarkable individual. It's a story of survival, perseverance, and ultimately triumph.
1. Childhood and Adolescence 1924–1942
2. War—Deportations—Escape—Return 1942–1945
3. Bratislava After the War 1945–1956
4. From Oppression to Freedom and Back Again 1956–1969
5. Normalization and Emigration 1969–1978
6. Exile 1978–1990
7. Returns 1990–1995
What Happened Next
Farewell to Agneša Kalinová
Appendix: Biographical Notes on Selected Individuals Mentioned
"If you ever wondered why some Jews in Europe did not try to escape, or why some Holocaust survivors returned to the country that had persecuted them, or why residents of Soviet-bloc countries did not immediately defect when allowed to visit the West, Kalinová's narrative will help you understand." —Times Literary Supplement
"The conversational structure of this biography helps it sustain an immediacy and readability that might be absent from a more traditional biographical tome, and it allows Agneša's bright and positive personality to frame the stages of her life and discuss the context of each in greatly informative detail. Jana Juráňová's thoughtful and compassionate questions add to this greatly. We don't simply learn the facts but how they played out in complex human and social reality. It's startling to realize, from reading this work, how narratives such as this one can help us preserve the spirit of its society in which so much happened, collectively and interactively, in the heady atmosphere of central Europe across those crucial decades—and why it matters." —World Literature Online
"In My Seven Lives moments of high drama and tragedy co-exist effortlessly with everyday life. Kalinová grounds her momentous material so deeply in a world of family, friends, work and the ordinary that its joys, terrors, humor and sorrows feel closer to our own lives than they otherwise would. The book's interview form is highly effective in moving back and forth between the political/historical and the personal. There are even times when Juráňová's questions compel Kalinová to reconsider or look closer at moments or issues she might have missed if she were writing her memoir on her own. Agneša Kalinová passed away in 2014 but she has left behind an account of the darkest chapters of the 20th century that is as highly personal as it is universal, showing much of the light, humor and creativity that faced off against repressive conformism and hatred, and which continues to survive." —B O D Y
"Kalinová's life is like a lens refracting twentieth-century history. Sometimes when you zoom in on particular details, you get a bigger picture…" —European Literature Network