Episode 123 – Karen Gordon – On Surviving the Surviving

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It took 10 years for Karen Baum Gordon to write and publish her memoir, The Last Letter: A father’s struggle, a daughter’s quest, and the long shadow of the Holocaust, under the guidance of a friend who was an editor at McGraw-Hill. The book explores generations of her family through letters, while grappling with the ancestral trauma and psychological legacy of terror, genocide and persecution.


In the latest episode of the Make Meaning Podcast, Karen speaks with host Lynne Golodner about the complexities of identity, what inspired her to write a memoir even though she never considered herself a writer, how she understands the legacy of family, and embracing intergenerational love, loss and life.

In this episode, Lynne and Karen discuss:

  • The constant act of becoming
  • The legacy of her grandparents, who perished in the Holocaust
  • The notion of “surviving the surviving”
  • How keeping a journal helps with the writing of a memoir
  • Intergenerational Trauma
  • Antisemitism
  • Being Jewish and American, in what order?
  • Confronting family sadness & how children are impacted, or influenced, by their parents’ pain
  • Combining the quotidian details of her grandparents’ lives, excerpts of their letters and her own ponderings


Links and Resources:


Find Karen Baum Gordon

Coming up next on the Make Meaning Podcast: Lynne interviews Dorit Sasson about her memoirs, Accidental Solider and Sand and Steel, which recount a move to Israel, serving in the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier, and returning to America after 18 years.

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