When History is Personal

“In these narratives of 25 moments in her life, essayist Schwartz (Emerita, Writing/Richard Stockton Coll.; Good Neighbors, Bad Times: Echoes of My Father’s German Village, 2008, etc.), the child of German-Jewish immigrants, begins with her father, who returned to the village in Germany that he fled after he realized that as Hitler continued to rise in power, Germany would quickly become a dangerous place for Jews. He managed to move most of his family out prior to the Holocaust, saving them from deportation to the concentration camps. Across other pieces, Schwartz ponders her childhood growing up in Queens, New York, her puppy, her mother’s handbag, and the wallpaper, bricks, and hidden rooms in her house, which dovetails with her consideration of the Underground Railroad and life as a slave. She writes about being a juror and deciding the fate of a prisoner as well as two men, one Jewish, one Arab, who have been lifelong friends; she wonders why others can’t overcome these same “political chasms.” Some of the other tender, reflective pieces include a story about writing poems and stories with her granddaughter, living beyond the label of “cancer survivor,” and ruminating on her husband, her lifetime love. “It is through these private lives,” writes the author, “that we come to understand how the thunderstorm in one neighborhood can be a drizzle a few blocks away—and who sees a rainbow, who hears only the storm?….[This book] is my weather report from the mid-twentieth century until now. It’s not truth with a capital ‘T’.” Although the essays are highly personal, most readers will relate to the larger pictures of human rights, racism, the women’s movement, and a score of other topics.

“Expressive, intimate snapshots of one woman’s life set atop the backdrop of global history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Schwartz writes in a bright, swift style, moving from her girlhood in Queens, N.Y., where she was raised the child of German-Jewish immigrants; to her early marriage (and near disastrous first Thanksgiving); to a battle with breast cancer and the passing of her beloved husband. It’s all here — a whole life…Schwartz’s work certainly could serve as inspiration for those keen to write memoirs of their own.”  —The Gazette

“When History is Personal… provides a look into how a life is made and how your identity is crucial to shaping everything around you…Schwartz opens herself and her life up to be examined and used to compare to your own life in a way that will allow you to see how you have influenced your own history and the world around you.”  —TheNerdyGirlExpress

Good Neighbors, Bad Times
“A fascinating picture, atypical of so much written on the subject. Blessed with good antennae and a skeptical mind, Ms. Schwartz is not an innocent abroad. Never gullible or credulous, but open to the evidence of her own eyes and ears, she is an ideal guide to her father’s lost world, which for so long she resisted. . . . It is a measure of her nuanced approach and refusal to settle for pat, simplistic answers that her book finds and genuinely values a rare point of light in that darkest of times without ever exaggerating its overall significance.” —The Washington Times

“Schwartz’s excellent presentation defies categorization. It has some elements of journalism, autobiography, history, reporting, feature writing, and literature. All these components are creatively combined to result in an eminently readable product that grips the reader’s attention. Schwartz has augmented our limited capacity to comprehend the Holocaust, which is ultimately an incomprehensible phenomenon.” —Morton I. Teicher, National Jewish Post & Opinion

“[A]n eloquent and affectionate account. . . . Schwartz’s tone is gentle, her prose brilliantly clear and her insights keen.” —Kirkus Reviews

“When Schwartz’s (Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed) father was born in 1898, half of his native German Black Forest farming village of 1,200 was Jewish and religious. Many years later . . . to reclaim her father’s village for herself, the author recorded stories of Jews and Gentiles in New York City, Germany and Israel and discovers that her father’s villagers, while not overwhelmingly brave or altruistic, managed to perform small acts of kindness or defiance during the Nazi years. . . . Her writing is genial and lucid and her aim is to understand how decent people remember a dishonorable past…” —Publishers Weekly

“A Holocaust memoir that is as much about then, as it is about nowGood Neighbors, Bad Times will make you smile, but it will also make you think. I highly recommend it.” — Carol Rittner, R.S.M., author of The Courage to Care: Non-Jews Who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust

“A shrewd and insightful meditation on how our collective histories are discovered, constructed, revised, and debated—and how, finally, we learn to live with them.” —Michael Walzer,  author of Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations   

Thoughts From a Queen-Sized Bed
“A queen-size bed may sound roomy, but when it is shared by a couple married for 40 years, the fit can be tight. Such a bed becomes a place where thoughts—on love, negotiating a long partnership, motherhood, staying faithful—and memories flow powerfully.” —The New York Times

“A lovely, lissome collection of short essays on contemporary marriage, love, and fidelity, this volume beguiles with its elegance and grace.” —The Virginia Quarterly Review

“A gentle moving celebration of the quotidian.” —Kirkus Reviews

Writing True
“In classes that used Writing True as the basis for their curricula, the evaluations were unusually high—in fact, the highest I have ever gotten for that or any other course I’ve taught.” —Ann Tabachnikov, FIT

Writing True is . . . obviously written by two practicing writers who also know more than a thing or two about teaching. Only practicing writers would have included the excellent chapter on ‘Finding Voice,’ the common sense advice in ‘Workshopping a Draft,’ the experienced approach to ‘The Craft of Revision’. . . . and the first-rate chapter, ‘The Role of Research.’” —Joe Mackall, Editor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative

“Author Interview: Mimi Schwartz, on the second edition of Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction” —Lisa Romeo Writes

Radio and TV appearances (selected)
A Touch of Gray
Chicago Up Close
Comcast Headliner News
Joan Hamburg Show
New Jersey Talking
NPR’s The Front Porch
NPR’s Satellite Sisters
Paul W. Smith Show
Pure Oxygen