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USD Professor Discusses New Book, ‘The Family Cannon’

Above: Book cover of Halina Duraj's book, "The Family Cannon"

Aired 5/22/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

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Halina Duraj, author, "The Family Cannon"

A newly published collection of short stories by a University of San Diego professor brings us into an immigrant family's experience. But it's not quite the experience you might be expecting.

sandiego.edu

Author Halina Duraj

Halina Duraj's stories are about a couple who emigrated from Poland to California after World War II. In America, they have a daughter. And it is daughter who we follow as she struggles to maintain her balance between Old World fears and New World dreams.

Duraj teaches creative writing at USD. Her new book is called "The Family Cannon."

Interview Highlights

Duraj said the collection is mostly fiction with some autobiographical roots.

"For me writing fiction starts with a germ that may come from someone else's experience or my own experience and memory and once I start writing the language really takes over and determines what happens. For me writing is less about wrapping language around what happened than it is using language to generate a new set of what happened, reaching towards some emotional truth rather than happening truth.”

On her Polish-American identity and the narrator Magda:

“There is certainty overlap there with me and Magda and I think that’s why I’m so fond of her as a character. She feels a lot like me…that hyphenated identity being Polish-American was really where many of these stories came from for me."

On the immigrant experience:

"I think immigrant stories have so many similarities. When I was in high school and looking for something to help me with not fitting in one of the books I gravitated towards was Amy Tan’s the 'Joy Luck Club'… I think there are these similarities across cultures that in many ways the immigrant experience transcends those particular places that the immigrants came from."

Scroll to 5:20 on the audio to hear Duraj read an excerpt from her book.

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