Old New Worlds
A Tale of Two Immigrants
Fall 2019 from Green Writers Press
Three countries, two immigrants, one woman’s search to find her ancestral soul mate
A missionary’s wife leaves Regency England to minister to the Khoikhoi in South Africa. Two hundred years later, her great-great granddaughter leaves Africa to immigrate to the United States. Across time and place, two immigrant stories begin to touch and entwine.
Old New Worlds is a work of creative nonfiction that is both timeless and timely. The narrative arc follows the life of Sarah Barker, who left England with her missionary husband in 1815 to minister to the indigenous Khoikhoi in pre-apartheid South Africa. Interwoven with this immigrant story, and looking at it through the lens of hindsight, is that of Sarah Barker’s great-great granddaughter, Judith Krummeck, whose own immigration from South Africa to America almost two hundred years later drew as many parallels as distinctions.
The intimate lives of these two women in their different times and places are thrown into relief against the larger social issues of colonialism and immigration, ethnic prejudice and genealogical roots, which are as urgent and universal today as they have ever been. The book is a combination of rigorous research, based on original diaries, letters, and archives, and of lyrical imaginings, as the author immerses herself in the pioneering life of her great-great grandmother and comes to love her as a soul mate.
“Judith Krummeck’s OLD NEW WORLDS is a beautiful, elegantly written story of two brave immigrant women: Judith and her great-great grandmother, Sarah Barker. From apartheid in South Africa to the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, from migrating on wagons with oxen, to learning how to drive on the “wrong” side of the road on the beltway, this story reminds us that the human journey toward freedom, equality and love, is an ongoing thread that reaches toward a better future while connecting us to our troubled past.”—Jessica Anya Blau, author of the nationally bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and the critically acclaimed Drinking Closer to Home
“Judith Krummeck steps into the fascinating story of her great-great grandmother with a wonderful combination of authority and self-reflection. A beautiful braiding of the lives of two women separated by two centuries.”
—Jane Delury, The Balcony
“In her skillful interweaving of past and present, Judith Krummeck’s writing combines delicacy with vividness, restraint with passion. It is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.”
—Tony Peake, North Facing and Derek Jarman: A Biography
A Selection of Book Reviews and Press Coverage
“In this cross-genre work, Krummeck (Beyond the Baobab, 2014) interweaves a memoir of her immigration to America with a creative imagining of her great-great-grandmother’s journey to South Africa as a missionary’s wife. … Krummeck’s own story is written as a memoir, but Sarah’s reads like a historical novel, with factual material and imagined dialogue side-by-side. These forms elegantly dovetail when the author inserts her first-person perspective into Sarah’s narrative: “Sarah had conceived her fourth child around the time of their third wedding anniversary—I like to think on their wedding anniversary.” Krummeck also evocatively describes the landscape through her ancestor’s eyes: “The clean air was pure and rich, the redolent earth a tawny ochre.” The present and past meld well, creating a sense that the author has a foot in both worlds.”
“While meditating on the emotional impact of immigrating, [Judith Krummeck] also makes ties to politics and cultural aspects of both places and time periods, from apartheid and the mistreatment of the Khoikhoi people to the Baltimore Uprising of 2015… Most importantly, Krummeck has written her own story, and that of her family, for many generations to come.” —Baltimore Magazine
Q: …Do you see this book as a way of passing down your story? Is that more important to you after being unable to find any diaries or letters written by Sarah?
I came to think about mortality in a different way as I was writing the book. All of us, I think, want to leave something behind from our transitory lives… —Baltimore Magazine Interview
“Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Judith Krummeck writes about her memoir, Old New Worlds...” Read the feature at Monkeybicycle