Abstract

Focusing on the close reading of Eva Mekler's two novels, Sunrise Shows Late (1997) and The Polish Woman (2007), set in Poland, Germany, and the United States, this article considers Mekler's constructs of Polish Jewish and Polish Jewish American identity that the author situates at the fraught intersection of gender, Polishness and Jewishness as she reflects on diasporic variations of the Polish Jewish American migration story. Mekler, a Jewish American writer born in Poland immediately after World War II, deploys the trope of passing as Polish or passing as Jewish and engages the second generation's memories of the Holocaust as she explores the effects of war trauma on her female characters. Permanently positioning her characters, some of whom come from secular assimilated Jewish families, between Polishness and Jewishness, she rejects any possibility that they could identify themselves simultaneously as Polish and Jewish. They may only exist within the troubled spaces of confrontation between their performance of hybrid identities and the Nazi racial laws, anti-Semitism, suspicion of passers, Jewish anti-Polishness, and Holocaust trauma.

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