Polish biographer Agata Tuszyńska to read from new book
Polish biographer Agata Tuszyńska will read from her new book, “Vera Gran – The Accused,” on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in 601 Herter Hall.
Vera Gran was a sultry contralto headlining at the Café Sztuka in the Warsaw Ghetto. The café and her accompanist are remembered in Roman Polański’s film The Pianist, but she is not. Accused after the war of collaboration with the Germans, despite being acquitted of all charges, she was never able to get her career back into full swing, though she did make some recordings in Paris, had a Carnegie Hall recital, and sang with the likes of Charles Aznavour. Tuszyńska’s book, newly translated into English by Charles Ruas, tells her story.
Tuszyńska, one of Poland’s leading biographers and writers, sought out Gran in Paris and interviewed her over a period of three years, researching Gran’s claims and allegations in an attempt to render an account of her life from scraps of memory, refracted through amnesia, paranoia and delusion. Her controversial book, quickly translated into several languages, is also a subjective account of the author’s struggle to work through her own personal relationship to the Warsaw Ghetto. Tuszyńska, the daughter of Ghetto survivors, only learned of her Jewish heritage in her late teens. In her book she attempts to get inside the minds of Gran and of her accusers, raising more questions than she answers.
Tuszyńska’s visit is sponsored by the Amesbury Professorship in Polish Language, Literature and Culture in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw. Copies of her book will be available for sale after her talk.
Image: Agata Tuszyńska. Photo by Iza Grzybowska/MOVE, for Viva! 23/2010