13 Stradomska Street

A Memoir of Exile and Return by Andrew Potok (USA)

 

When Andrew Potok was eight he fled with his family from Warsaw, leaving home and business to escape the invading Nazis. The family made it to American, but Andrew’s memories of violence, Jew hatred, and betrayal--including that of his father--erupted into nightmares and eventually formed the backdrop of his rich, though at times turbulent, life as an artist and writer.

When, late in Andrew's life, a Polish lawyer offers to help him reclaim property in Krakow that was wrongfully inherited by a relative, he and his wife revisit Poland, with its still-virulent anti-Semitism. The visit awakens long-dormant memories and provokes deep reflections on the nature of evil. The ongoing lawsuit becomes emblematic of the book’s central theme: There can be no closure for survivors of the Holocaust--no justice for either victims or perpetrators, no compensation, and no forgiveness.

Andrew Potok was a successful visual artist until he went blind in his forties. He then turned to writing and published "Ordinary Daylight, Portrait of An Artist Going Blind," "My Life With Goya," and "A Matter of Dignity." He lives in Vermont.

A blind artist returns to claim his family’s Kraków property, recalling earlier trauma and betrayal and encountering virulent Polish anti-Semitism

Praise for 13 Stradomska Street

"A terrific book! I could not put it down. The book turns back and forth between the author’s childhood memories and his blind journey back to Poland, weaving between the personal and the political.” —Roger Porter, author of The Voice Within: Reading and Writing Autobiography and Bureau of Missing Persons: Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers

“Potok is blind but he makes us see not only the pre-World War II landscape from which he and his family fled, but also how and why and at what price.” —Jay Neugeboren, author of Max Baer and the Star of David and Imagining Robert

“Potok explores the long reach of both his family’s 1939 escape from Poland and his own blindness in this thoughtful and elegant memoir.”—Elinor Langer, a member of The Nation editorial board and author of Josephine Herbst and A Hundred Little Hitlers