It meant a lot to me because my sister and I don’t have much family. We have three cousins in America and that’s it. It’s also about not having an identity—feeling neither Irish nor Belgian. I owned these seven memoirs written by family members that served as the basis for the book, and lots of photos, so I felt I had a duty to put this story together.
But writing it also made me feel much more connected to my transgenerational inheritance, to the fact that I am the great-granddaughter of a schnapps bar owner in Vienna. Now I am going to write about the other side of my family, which is Irish. The two books will be a diptych. Maybe I’ll feel incredibly Irish after I’m done with that, but I don’t think it’ll be quite the same. For me, being Jewish is also about this feeling of not belonging anywhere, or of belonging in many places.