Belonging (US title) / Heimat (foreign title)
A 280-page illustrated and hand-lettered visual memoir on a German family’s memory of WWII.
Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long shadow throughout her childhood and youth in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. For Nora, the simple fact of her German citizenship bound her to the Holocaust and its unspeakable atrocities and left her without a sense of cultural belonging. Yet Nora knew little about her own family’s involvement in the war: though all four grandparents lived through the war, they never spoke of it.
Now in her late thirties, after almost twenty years of living abroad (first in the UK, then in the US), Krug realizes that living away from Germany has only intensified her need to ask the questions she didn’t dare, or didn’t think to ask a child and young adult. Returning to Germany, she visits archives, conducts research, and interviews family members, uncovering in the process the stories of her maternal grandfather, a driving teacher in Karlsruhe during the war, and her father’s brother Franz-Karl, who died as a teenage SS soldier in Italy. Her extraordinary quest, spanning continents and generations, pieces together her family’s troubling story and reflects on what it means to be a German of her generation.
Belonging wrestles with the idea of Heimat, the German word for the place that first forms us, where the sensibilities and identity of one generation pass on to the next. In this highly inventive visual memoir—equal parts graphic novel, family scrapbook, and investigative narrative—Nora Krug draws on letters, archival material, flea market finds, and photographs to attempt to understand what it means to belong. A wholly original record of a German woman’s struggle with the weight of catastrophic history, Belonging is also a reflection on the responsibility that we all have as inheritors of our countries’ pasts.
Fall 2018 release in the following countries: USA (Scribner), UK (Particular Books), Germany (Penguin Hardcover), Holland (Balans), France (Gallimard). 2019 and 2020 release in the following countries: Norway (Spartacus), Sweden (Norstedts), Spain (Salamandra), Brazil (Companhia das Letras), Italy (Stile Libero).
See excerpts of the book below.
“Nora Krug has created a beautiful visual memoir of a horrific time in history. A time that torments us to this day. Asking questions and searching for the truth, she will not turn away from the legacy of her family and her country. She asks the question of how any of us survive our family history. Ultimately, the only course is not to veil the answers.”
Maira Kalman – author of Cake and Ooh-la-la-Max in Love
“Belonging is an astoundingly honest book that conducts a devastating—and irresistible—investigation into one’s family struggle with the forces of history. I could not stop reading it and when I was done, I could not stop thinking about it. By going so deeply into her family’s history, Krug has in some ways written about us all.”
Sebastian Junger – author of Tribe and War
“A page-turning scrapbook/collage of memory, meaning and accountability, Ms. Krug draws the reader through her family history with the directness of imagery, handwriting and, ultimately, a disquieting direness that has echoes in our American life, right now. Belonging is valuable, readable and, needless to say, highly recommended.”
Chris Ware – author of Building Stories
“To belong to a place is not to be able to choose what it takes from you. But we can choose what we take from it. Nora Krug takes from her German homeland, and then gives to us, a sense of what it is like to be German today, and a guide to how a reckoning with the past can begin.”
Timothy Snyder – author of Bloodlands and Black Earth
“Nora Krug’s book Belonging is a heart-wrenching, suspenseful and fascinating odyssey that straddles, and seeks to uncover, an uncharted, inaccessible, unfathomable past. It is a kaleidoscope of interrupted lives, leading inexorably to its ultimate conclusion. I couldn’t stop reading it.”
Hava Beller – director of The Restless Conscience
“As the Jewish heir of grandparents who themselves had to flee the upsurge of fascism in their German homelands, I found granddaughter Nora Krug’s heartrending investigation of her own family’s painstakingly occluded history through those years especially moving. But as an American living through these, our very own years of a seemingly inexorable drift into one’s still not quite sure what, I found Krug’s achingly realized graphic memoir downright unsettling, for what will our own grandchildren one day make of us and our own everyday compromises and failures to attend?”
Lawrence Weschler – author of Calamities of Exile and A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers.
“Heimat is a compelling and beautifully crafted graphic memoir. Holding this book, and leafing through its pages, rich with photographs, handwritten letters and exquisite drawings, you feel as if the past is reaching out and grabbing you. It is an exploration of legacy and memory, the things we inherit, the stories we pass on and the strange power the past can hold over us. I loved it.”
Isabel Greenberg – author of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth