My Father's Hidden Life--A Story of Race and Family Secrets
By Bliss Broyard
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316163507, 528pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
List Price: $24.99*
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Two months before he died of cancer, renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard called his grown son and daughter to his side, intending to reveal a secret he had kept all their lives and most of his own: he was black. But even as he lay dying, the truth was too difficult for him to share, and it was his wife who told Bliss that her WASPy, privileged Connecticut childhood had come at a price. Ever since his own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and began to "pass" in order to get work, Anatole had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the façade. Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of his choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity. With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed race ancestry.
Bliss Broyard is the author of the collection of stories, My Father, Dancing, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the year. Her fiction and essays have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthology and The Art of the Essay, and have appeared in Grand Street, Ploughshares, The New York Times, Elle Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.