The award-winning New York Times columnist turns a compassionate yet discerning eye on his family's legacy in The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family, an intimate memoir of modern Jewish identity, following the diaspora of his own family to examine the impact of memory, displacement, and disquiet.
Starting with his uncle's experience in WWII Italy, Cohen weaves together family stories, memories, diaries, and letters stretching back to the 19th century. We relive the anomie of European Jews before and after the Holocaust, following them from Lithuania to South Africa, England, the U.S. and Israel. He illuminates the uneasy resonance of the racism his family witnessed living in apartheid-era South Africa and the ambivalence felt by his Israeli cousin when tasked with policing the occupied West Bank.
Through the decades, the Jewish sense of "otherness" is pervasive, and Cohen finds it has been a significant factor in his family's history of manic depression. This is a story of remembrance and repression, suicide and resilience, moral ambivalence and uneasily evolving loyalties (religious, ethnic, national).
Roger Cohen is a journalist and author who focuses on international politics and relations. He is the New York Times' international writer-at-large and the International Herald Tribune's editor-at-large, where he writes his weekly Globalist column.
Mr. Cohen began his career as a freelance journalist in Paris in 1977. Two years later, he became a foreign correspondent for Reuters based in various cities across Europe. In 1983, he began working for the Wall Street Journal in Europe, and opened a bureau in Rio de Janeiro. In 1990, he took a position with the New York Times working out of Berlin, Paris and Zagreb, Croatia, and became the Times' foreign editor in 2001.
Mr. Cohen has also authored several books, including Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo and In the Eye of the Storm: The Life of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. He holds a master's degree in history and French from Oxford University.