National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Tina Rosenberg, Winner of the 1995 NONFICTION AWARD for
THE HAUNTED LAND: FACING EUROPE'S GHOSTS AFTER COMMUNISM

Slower than Stanley Kunitz. I am thrilled and stunned. I want to take exception to something that Ms. Cheever said, that this book would have been written without editors and publishers and agents. That's certainly not true in my case, and I'd like to thank those that made it possible. Gail Ross, my wonderful agent who believed in me many, many years ago, at Random House, my editor, Ann Godoff and her assistant Enrica Gadler.

I'd like to thank the people who shared their stories with me in Eastern Europe. The book is about how four countries of the former Soviet block are dealing with the crimes of the communist past. And I found, as people were struggling with their dilemmas, political, legal and moral, that they had thought deeply about these problems and shared them with me.

I guess I'd like to begin by thanking Mikael Gorbachev, who made all this possible. I'd also like to thank my parents who, from when I was very young, always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do, whether or not I was good at it. And especially my grandfather, Philip Sandler, who was a writer and a journalist himself. And in some ways, his journey, both through his career and through ideology, had a lot to do with this book.

He started out as a writer at the Freiheit and then went on to, after breaking with communism, went on to the Morgan Journal, Der Tag, and finally, when he died, was the city editor of the Vorworts. And I think at the age o 76, the youngest member of the staff.

And my grandfather, when I was very little, used to bring me into The Forward and used to encourage me to write what he called compositions, from when I was about seven or eight. He died a long time ago and I'm sorry that he never lived to see that I did, in fact, take his advice and became a writer and have the great honor and privilege of being here tonight. Thank you to all the judges, and thank you.