I Must Belong Somewhere
Three men. Two migrations. One endless journey.
By Jonathan Dean
From Sunday Times journalist Jonathan Dean, a journey into his family history, which throws up surprising parallels with the present-day refugee crisis.
'An extraordinary family tale of survival' Sunday Times
Human and curious . . . an admirable family memoir of migration' Guardian
Jonathan Dean's great-grandfather, David Schapira, lived a life of epic achievement and epic suffering. Forced to flee Ukraine at the outbreak of World War I, he was blinded fighting for his adopted country then survived - just - the concentration camp that country later sent him to. In between he found love and laughter in Vienna, and became the first Austrian lawyer to train using braille - something no Briton would do until the new century dawned.
Dean's grandfather, Heinz Schapira, was also a refugee. Aged 16, he said goodbye to his parents and embarked on a nail-biting journey to Britain, to escape his fate as an Austrian Jew. The prejudice he faced and assimilation he achieved are laid out in the pages of his diary, pages filled with pain and joy, surprising observations and irrepressible humour.
But this is no ordinary family history. As Dean visits the places which changed the course of his family tree - Vienna, Cologne, Ukraine - he finds history repeating itself. He talks to refugees from the Middle East, people who left their homes and families at the same age as David and Heinz. And he observes the warning signs: the bigoted excesses of Brexit Britain, the rise of the Far Right in Austria, the backlash against refugees in Germany.
By viewing these contemporary experiences through the prism of his family history - and vice versa - Dean creates an impassioned, profoundly timely study of what it means to be a refugee, to be European and, ultimately, to be British.
Jonathan Dean is Senior Writer for the SUNDAY TIMES Culture, regularly interviewing the world's biggest stars. He has written for the paper's News Review, Style, Magazine and Travel sections, on subjects ranging from Remembrance Day to holidays in LA, and contributed to the POOL, GQ, SHORTLIST, the INDEPENDENT and RED.
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- Publication date:
18 May 2017
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Jonathan Dean's remarkable family saga would make the producers of Who Do You Think You Are? weak at the knees. — Tarquin Hall, SUNDAY TIMES
Humane and curious... an admirable family memoir. — Steven Poole, GUARDIAN
Against the shocking news stories of the last couple of years, Jonathan Dean's very human take on the journey of a refugee has fresh resonance. Examining the lives caught in the crossfire as Europe twice fragmented in world war makes this a must read now. — Emily Phillips, GRAZIA
Get a copy for your Brexit-voting uncle. — Clare Pennington, GRAZIA
He explores complex subjects accessibly, and his book is all the more powerful for it. — Max Liu, I PAPER