Opa Nobody (American Lives ) (Paperback)
University of Nebraska Press, 9780803243620, 380pp.
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
It had come to this: breast-feeding her screaming three-month-old while sitting on the cigarette-scarred floor of a union hall, lying to her husband so she could attend yet another activist meeting, and otherwise actively self-destructing. Then Sonya Huber turned to her long-dead grandfather, the family “nobody,” for help.
Huber’s search for meaning and resonance in the life of her grandfather Heina Buschman was unusual insofar as she knew him only through dismissive family stories. He let his wife die of neglect . . . he used his infant son as a decoy when transporting anti-Nazi literature in a baby carriage . . . and so the stories went. What she actually discovered was that, like his granddaughter, Heina Buschman was a beleaguered but committed activist whose story echoed her own.
Through her research, Huber not only conjured her grandfather’s voice in answer to many of the questions that troubled her but also found in his story a source of personal sustenance. Based on extensive research and documentation, this story of Heina Buschman offers a rare look into the heart of the “average” socialist trying to survive the Nazis and rebuild a broken world. Alternating with his voice is Huber’s own, providing a rich and moving counterpoint that makes this deeply personal exploration of family, politics, and individual responsibility a story for all of us and for all time.
About the Author
Sonya Huber is an assistant professor of English at Fairfield University. She is the author of Cover Me (Nebraska, 2010) as well as the textbook The Backwards Research Guide for Writers, and many essays and articles.
Praise For Opa Nobody (American Lives )…
— Deborah Donovan
“In every chapter, [Huber] weaves stories of her activist life with richly imagined scenes of her grandfather, reconstructing his life from anecdotes and documentary evidence. . . . Most radically of all for a progressive activist, Huber embraces the past. Instead of tossing it all out in search of something new, she ties a firm knot between then and now.”—Los Angeles Times
— Karrie Higgins
— Conan Stuart
— Valerie Weaver-Zercher