Memoirs from the daughter of a Croatian immigrant has won the Center for Fiction’s Christopher Doheny Award and has been shortlisted for a Del Sol Press Prize.
The book, Immigrant Daughter: Stories You Never Told Me, is about American-born Catherine who knows little of her Croatian mother’s early life. When Marijana dies of ovarian cancer, twenty-two-year-old Catherine finds herself cut off from the past she never really knew. As Catherine searches for clues to her mother’s elusive history, she discovers that Marijana was orphaned during WWII, nearly died as a teenager, and escaped from Communist Yugoslavia to Rome, and then South America.
Through travel and memory, history and imagination, Catherine resurrects the relatives she’s never known. Traversing time and place, memoir and novel, this lyrical narrative explores the collective memory between mothers and daughters, and what it means to find wholeness. It is a story where a daughter gives voice to her immigrant mother’s unspoken history, and in the process, heals them both.
Catherine’s mother was born in Oriovac in Slavonia, but grew up in Zagreb. Her baka, who raised her, was from Mrkopalj in Gorski Kotar. The book also travels to Hvar and Makarska and takes place in 5 countries.
“The memoir crackles with imagination, raw feeling, and the kind of stark empathy we come to literature precisely to experience. The two key threads of the book–the author’s and her mother’s–play off one another with a delicate harmony I’ve rarely seen in memoir, showcasing Kapphahn’s ability to use both her personal experience and her mother’s unique, striking narrative to build an intimate story about longing, identity, and how the imprints of our family histories can echo, strangely, through the actions of our present.” – Mike Scalise, author of The Brand New Catastrophe.
“By braiding together her own, present-day journey of discovery with her mother’s, Kapphahn shows us how we can be cosmically linked to those we love – across physical and temporal barriers – and emerge whole, through the will of our imagination.” – Brenda Lin, author of Wealth Ribbon: Taiwan Bound, America Bound.
The book is available from Amazon and other book sellers.
More about the author here.