Jewish Identity in Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Irene Nemirovsky, a Jewish Writer in Twentieth-Century France

in collaboration with IHR Modern French Seminar

Event Information and Booking

12th June, 2017
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7JL
Susan Suleiman, Harvard University, in conversation with Ann Jefferson, University of Oxford and Daniel Lee, University of Sheffield

Susan Suleiman will speak about her recent book, The Némirovsky Question (Yale University Press, 2017) that explores the fraught issue of Jewish identity in the life and work of Jewish Franco-Russian novelist Irène Némirovsky. Némirovsky was a successful novelist in 1930s Paris, who perished at Auschwitz. Forgotten for most of the postwar period, her writings shot her once again to fame in 2004 following the discovery in a suitcase of her masterwork, Suite Française. The novel was an instant bestseller and part of it was made into a film in 2015. Since Némirovsky’s rediscovery, her Jewish identity – and her tortured relationship with that identity – has occasioned fierce controversy, with some critics condemning her as a ‘self-hating Jew’ due to what they consider as antisemitic stereotypes found in her earlier works.

Ann Jefferson and Daniel Lee will engage Suleiman in a three-way conversation about Jews in interwar and occupied France, antisemitism in fiction, and other subjects she treats in her book.

Susan Rubin Suleiman, the C. Douglas Dillon Research Professor of the Civilization of France and Research Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard, is the author of many books, including Crises of Memory and the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2006) and Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook (Plunkett Lake Press, 2011).

Ann Jefferson, Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Oxford, recently published Genius in France: An Idea and its Uses (Princeton University Press, 2014). Jefferson is currently working on a biography of the Russian-born French novelist, Nathalie Sarraute.

Daniel Lee, Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in History at the University of Sheffield, is author of Pétain’s Jewish Children: French Jewish Youth and the Vichy Regime (Oxford University Press, 2014). Lee is currently writing a book about Robert Griesinger, an SS Officer from Stuttgart.

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