Heavyweight: A Family Story of the Holocaust, Empire, and Memory by Solomon J. Brager

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A moving and provocative graphic memoir exploring inherited trauma, family history, and the ever-shifting understanding of our own identities, for readers of Gender Queer and I Was Their American Dream.

Solomon Brager grew up with accounts of their great-grandparents’ escape from Nazi Germany, told over and over until their understanding of self was bound up with the heroic details of their ancestors’ exploits. Their great-grandmother related how her husband, a boxing champion, thrashed Joseph Goebbels and cleared beer halls of Nazis with his fists, how she broke him out of an internment camp and carried their children over the Pyrenees mountains. But that story was never the whole picture; zooming out, everything becomes more complicated.

Alongside the Levis’ propulsive journey across Europe and to the United States, Brager distills fascinating research about the Holocaust and connected periods of colonial history. Heavyweight asks us to consider how the patterns of history emerge and reverberate, not as a simple chain of events but in haunting layers. Confronting the specters of violence as both historian and descendent, this book is an exploration of family mythology, intergenerational memory, and the mark the past makes on the present.

In conversation with works by Rebecca Hall, Nora Krug, Rutu Modan, and Leela Corman, Heavyweight will contribute to the collective work of Holocaust studies and the chronicle of woven human stories.

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