Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian Buruma – review


This post is by Ian Thomson from Books | The Guardian


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Ian Buruma’s account of his Jewish grandparents’ experiences speaks volumes about modern Britain and asylum As a child I assumed my mother was English. Her spoken English was said to be peculiarly accented, but I never heard it. The suspicion that she belonged to another world was nevertheless unsettling (it would be unsettling for any child). Only now, 40 years on, can I see that her “English” identity concealed a tumultuous history of flight, concealment and self-invention. Her family, persecuted by Stalin in the Baltic city of Tallinn, had fled to England before their house was commandeered and turned into a Soviet textile factory. She had very little English on her arrival in London in 1947 at the age of 17, but doggedly set out to learn the language. All her life, though, she remained afraid of the slip in manner or speech that would betray her non-English identity. The ...