Mihai Grunfeld was born in Cluj, Romania where he lived with his family until he was eighteen. In January 1969 he and his older brother traveled to Czechoslovakia and from there escaped to Austria. This was the beginning of a long journey, which took him to Israel, Italy, Sweden, and Canada in search of a home in the West. Eventually he settled in the United States where he is a professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature at Vassar College.
Leaving — Memories of Romania recounts the narrator’s childhood and adolescence as the son of impoverished Holocaust survivors. His parents are unable to talk about their past, but their lives — and the lives of their two sons — are utterly shaped by it. As he comes of age, the narrator is increasingly conscious of his parents’ profound loneliness, the glaring gaps in his family’s history, and the questions that go unanswered. Gradually the story of an innocent child’s tender, loving relationship with his parents evolves into a powerful tale of complex family dynamics shaped by adolescent experimentation, the daily grind of factory work, anti-Semitism, and big dreams of escaping the politically restrictive system in which he lives.