Dancing On One Foot
Growing Up In Nazi Germany
Shanti Elke Bannwart’s memoir
Dancing On One Foot is the story of a woman’s lifelong journey to understand what she came to face about war and her country’s part in a great crime. She is driven by a deep urge to lift the veil around the dark mystery of human violence. Yet, an undercurrent of vibrant joy runs inside her and through this book. It infuses all the layers of her memory, as if her wounding and the darkness of her story have fertilized her love of life.
Dancing On One Foot confronts a major issue of our time, war, observed through the story of the author’s childhood during WWII in Nazi Germany. It explores the psychological imprint of that experience, and the healing in later years, after the author settles in the High Desert of the American Southwest. The book is a love letter to the ability of women and children to survive hardships and celebrate life in all its straight and crooked ways: To dance, even if there’s only one foot left to stand on.
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Praise for Dancing On One Foot:
“I’m drawn by the mystery here, the child’s perspective contrasted with the realities of war, just out of reach. Fantastic establishing of time, place in a unique, believable fashion.”
-Jon Sternfeld, editor at Jane Goodman Literary Agency
“Dancing On One Foot is an ambitious, brave, passionate memoir. Shanti can evoke places, people, and hard-to-name emotional states with care, candor, and energy. She created a structure that can bear the weight of no less than a life story.
“Shanti’s mother, Isolde, and to a lesser extent her grandmother, are at the center of the book; but Dancing On One Foot also examines the more enigmatic figures of the writer’s father and grandfather, among others. Intelligently placed uncaptioned family photographs and illustrations are an integral part of the narrative.
“Supporting her meditations with some historical research and allusions to work by Böll and others, Shanti begins to examine what it means to be ‘a perpetrator and a victim.’ She also draws on her wisdom and experience as a seasoned therapist to reflect on the ‘art’ of grief and forgiveness.
“Hers is a gleaming ‘new’ voice from a wise soul.”
-Jocelyn Lieu, author of Potential Weapons, A Novella and Stories and What Isn’t There: Inside a Season of Change
“Beautiful, gorgeous writing. You are an amazing writer with great talent.”
-Dina McQueen, editor, author of Finding Aster
“Your book has the value of being real, of being the story of someone who actually lived through the events of one of the most tumultuous times in the Twentieth Century, and as a child. Many books have been written by soldiers about those times, and many have been written by Jewish people who survived the Holocaust, but I don’t know of a book (in the United States, at least) that recounts the true experiences of a German child growing up in wartime Germany. I believe it is a unique viewpoint among memoirs, and your book contains many interesting things that I had no idea about.
“The story you tell has an emotional impact, as people read it, they will empathize with the child caught in a world not of her making, as she tries to make sense of all the things going on around her. I believe your book is a powerful one, and that it will reveal to Americans a side of history that they probably never considered. The viewpoint of a child is a unique one; even though you look back now as an adult, we see most of the events through the eyes of a child.”
– Tony Burton, editor/owner Honey Locust Press
Dancing On One Foot is a very moving book, in equal parts sad, brave, and lovely in its imagery. A book which seeks, in many ways, to remember a lost mother and a childhood of war in World War II Germany. Bravo, excellent work.
—Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Author of The Mirror in the Well, The Daydreaming Boy, Draining the Sea and Three Apples Fell From Heaven
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