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Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging

A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging

An acclaimed journalist travels the globe to solve the mystery of her ancestry, confronting the question at the heart of the American experience of immigration, race, and identity: Who are my people?

"A thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are . . . and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans."-Barack Obama

"A rich and revealing memoir . . . Futureface raises urgent questions having to do with history and complicity."-The New York Times

The daughter of a Burmese mother and a white American father, Alex Wagner grew up thinking of herself as a "futureface"-an avatar of a mixed-race future when all races would merge into a brown singularity. But when one family mystery leads to another, Wagner's post-racial ideals fray as she becomes obsessed with the specifics of her own family's racial and ethnic history.

Drawn into the wild world of ancestry, she embarks upon a quest around the world-and into her own DNA-to answer the ultimate questions of who she really is and where she belongs. The journey takes her from Burma to Luxembourg, from ruined colonial capitals with records written on banana leaves to Mormon databases, genetic labs, and the rest of the twenty-first-century genealogy complex. But soon she begins to grapple with a deeper question: Does it matter? Is our enduring obsession with blood and land, race and identity, worth all the trouble it's caused us?

Wagner weaves together fascinating history, genetic science, and sociology but is really after deeper stuff than her own ancestry: in a time of conflict over who we are as a country, she tries to find the story where we all belong.

Praise for Futureface

"Smart, searching . . . Meditating on our ancestors, as Wagner's own story shows, can suggest better ways of being ourselves."-Maud Newton, The New York Times Book Review

"Sincere and instructive . . . This timely reflection on American identity, with a bonus exposé of DNA ancestry testing, deserves a wide audience."-Library Journal

"The narrative is part Mary Roach-style participation-heavy research, part family history, and part exploration of existential loneliness. . . . The journey is worth taking."-Kirkus Reviews

"[A] ruminative exploration of ethnicity and identity . . . Wagner's odyssey is an effective riposte to anti-immigrant politics."-Publishers Weekly
Rezension
"Futureface raises urgent questions having to do with history and complicity. . . . A rich and revealing memoir."-The New York Times

"A thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are . . . and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans."-Barack Obama

"Smart, searching . . . Meditating on our ancestors, as Wagner's own story shows, can suggest better ways of being ourselves."-Maud Newton, The New York Times Book Review

"Sincere and instructive . . . This timely reflection on American identity, with a bonus exposé of DNA ancestry testing, deserves a wide audience."-Library Journal

"The narrative is part Mary Roach-style participation-heavy research, part family history, and part exploration of existential loneliness. . . . The journey is worth taking."-Kirkus Reviews

"[A] ruminative exploration of ethnicity and identity . . . Wagner's odyssey is an effective riposte to anti-immigrant politics."-Publishers Weekly

"Alex Wagner is brilliant and hilarious. Futureface is a magic trick: She starts with the humble story of a third-culture kid's existential loneliness and ends with a smart, timely, and moving exploration of family lies, exile and immigration, genetics, and the mystery of human belonging."-Eddie Huang, bestselling author of Fresh Off the Boat

"Futureface is an important contribution to the American conversation-Alex Wagner's story is insightful, moving, informative, and searing. I have deeply admired Alex for a long time as an original thinker, a keenly observant journalist, and a funny, empathetic human being. Read this book and you'll understand why."-Wes Moore, bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore
Portrait
Alex Wagner is co-host and executive producer of Showtime’s
The Circus, a national correspondent for CBS News, and a contributing editor to
The Atlantic. She lives in New York City.
… weiterlesen
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  • Part I

    Solitaire

    Chapter One

    I played a lot of solitaire growing up. I was an only child and a nerd and thus alone a lot of the time, and when I wasn't, I was asked to mind my manners and keep quiet around the adults. For most of my adolescence, I used a weathered pack of dark blue playing cards that had the logo of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters embossed in gold on the back: a pair of horse's heads atop a wagon wheel. Adults would see the horse head next to the Teamsters name and laugh in disbelief that a union with alleged mafia ties would have a horse's head anywhere near its logo. I hadn't yet seen The Godfather, and so I didn't understand the irony, but I often pretended I did. "I know!" I would say, laughing along without understanding. I was alone, on the outside of the joke, wishing (rather pathetically) to be on the inside-where everyone else was.

    The Teamsters union was where my mother worked, at the tail end of the heyday of American labor organizing, circa 1971. She had immigrated to America from Rangoon, Burma, in 1965, escaping a military dictatorship. From her initial landing pad in Washington, D.C., she went on to attend Swarthmore College, became enamored of leftist politics, and moved to Philadelphia after graduation to live in a commune with her French boyfriend and print up copies of what she described as a "socialist daily."

    The French boyfriend fell out of favor, and my mother moved back to Washington, D.C., where she found a job at the Teamsters union. That led to an interview for a job at the Alliance for Labor Action. The man who interviewed her there was my father, and from the moment they met, she couldn't stand him. Perhaps that should have been a warning, but instead it became their meet-cute: They hated each other! And then they got married.

    My father's ancestral path to that game-changing interview began on the opposite side of the world. He was the fourth child of a rural mail carrier in northeast Iowa, the son of an Irish American mother and a father who claimed roots in Luxembourg. My dad showed an early interest in politics and, like my mother, came to Washington to do the work of liberal causes. There were no socialist dailies or French girlfriends, but he had longish hair and worked on George McGovern's presidential campaign and knew Hunter S. Thompson. My mother and father's remote histories intersected on a bridge of progressive bona fides and casual early seventies bohemianism. Only a few generations back, their families had been separated by oceans and mountain ranges and steppes. But in Washington, their shared values were enough to draw them close.

    They were married in 1975 and several years later had their only child-me, a daughter born of an unlikely set of Burmese-Luxembourg-Irish bloodlines. Of this weird heritage, I knew little. Our Burmese story was relayed to me by my mother and grandmother, in occasional fits and starts, usually with food as the catalyst. A pot of chicken curry would summon some certain memory, which would in turn beget a snippet of family history. But only a snippet-the stories were carefully constructed, well-worn vignettes that never risked genuine revelation. Burma was kept at a safe distance from our American lives.

    My father's people were from Europe. His grandfather left the Old World sometime during the late nineteenth century, motivation unclear. I didn't know much about his departure and why he'd made it, or even much about the place where he began: Luxembourg, a strange country about which little was discussed in my family. The one detail that slipped through was the name of his exotic-sounding hometown: Esch. And all we knew about Esch was that it sounded like the sort of place you'd want to get away from.

    Luxembourg itself was largely irrelevant. For most of my adolescence, I confused it with Liechtenstein, an ant-sized country buried between Austria and Switzerland. Most
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Beschreibung

Produktdetails

Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 352
Erscheinungsdatum 08.01.2019
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-8129-8750-8
Verlag Random House US
Maße (L/B/H) 20.3/13.3/2.5 cm
Gewicht 254 g
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Fr. 19.90
Fr. 19.90
inkl. gesetzl. MwSt.
inkl. gesetzl. MwSt.
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Versandfertig innert 4 - 7 Werktagen,  Kostenlose Lieferung ab Fr.  30 i
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Kostenlose Lieferung ab Fr.  30 i
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