Janet Malcolm, provocative journalist with a piercing eye, dies at 86

In 2019 review In The Times of Ms. Malcolm’s book “Nobody’s Looking at You”, Wyatt Mason noted the habit of some new journalists to insert themselves into their stories and noted: “Not taking any particular issue with the work of their colleagues. , yet I wish to say that Malcolm, line to line, is a more revealing writer whose presence in her pieces does not tend to advertise itself as much as complicates the subject. And line to line She is a better writer.

Janet Malcolm was born Jan Klara Vinerova on July 8, 1934, into an affluent Jewish family in Prague, which was then Czechoslovakia. His mother, Hannah (Tausigowa) Wiener, was a lawyer. His father, Joseph Wiener, was a psychiatrist and neurologist.

In July 1939, when Janet was almost 5 years old and her sister, Mary, was a child, her parents collected enough money to bribe Nazi officials for exit visas. (Family lore held that their money went to an SS officer to buy a racehorse.) The family boarded Hamburg, then New York, on one of the last civilian ships to leave Europe for America before the outbreak of World War II. used to travel by train. Upon arrival, he changed his surname to Winn; Jan Clara became Janet Clara.

He initially lived with relatives in Flatbush, Brooklyn, while his father studied for their medical board. In 1940 he moved to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where his father actually became a village doctor for the large working-class Czech population living in the pre-70s. Janet’s mother, then known as Joan, worked for Voice of America.

While in kindergarten in Brooklyn, Janet felt lost and stunned by her inability to understand English. But she quickly learned the new language during her early years of schooling in Manhattan, although she still spoke Czech at home to her advantage when her father’s mother moved in with her in 1941.

If learning English came easily to Janet, knowing she was Jewish, no. One day he repeated an anti-Jewish slur, prompting his parents to inform him that he was Jewish. By then she had already internalized anti-Semitism in the culture, she wrote in a New Yorker essay, “Six Glimpses” (2018).

“Many years later, I came to accept and cherish my Jewishness,” she wrote. “But during my childhood and adolescence I used to hate and resent and hide it.”

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