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My Innocent Absence

Tales from a Nomadic Life

By Miriam Frank

Innocent Absence

Miriam Frank was born in Barcelona, Spain, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, from a German mother who fled Hitler, and an American father who emigrated as a child from Lithuania to New York, and transferred to Spain following his war service in counterintelligence. As Spain fell to Franco, two-year-old Miriam was moved to France, where she spent the next 3 years in hiding until her mother obtained a passage for them to Mexico in the midst of WW2.


Following her primary schooling in Mexico, they moved again to join another branch of her mother’s dispersed family in New Zealand, where Miriam completed her education and went on to graduate in medicine. Back in Europe, she settled in London, gained the Fellowship in her field, was appointed senior lecturer and consultant at the Royal London Hospital, married Rudolf Kortokraks, an artist and former assistant to Oskar Kokoschka, helped him establish an art school in Italy, and gave birth to two daughters.


She also moved on from her scientific writing to more literary forms with her translations of Latin American and Spanish authors and finally to her own writing. She is the author of My Innocent Absence (Arcadia Books, 2010), longlisted for the PEN-Ackerley prize for a literary autobiography of excellence, and An Unfinished Portrait (Gibson Square Books, 2017), which have received high praise in the British and foreign press and been translated into French (Éditions De Fallois) and Greek (Kapon Editions). A Turbulent Stillness, in a Day in the Time of Covid is in progress.

'A dramatic and quite gripping autobiography' - Buenos Aires Herald

'Miriam Frank raconta la sua vita in un libro fantastico, commovente' - Italia Sera, Rome

longlisted for the PEN-Ackerley prize for a literary autobiography of excellence

A small child escapes from the sombre fate selected for her. Though she is too young to know it, let alone comprehend it, it radically alters the rest of her life. 

Born from expatriate parents, each, by then, already twice uprooted across Europe and the US, Miriam has scarcely mastered walking and her first language when her own odyssey into exile begins. By the age of eleven she has escaped two wars, crossed three oceans, lived in four continents, and switched languages four times. She belongs to no country till she reaches the age of seventeen, by which time Miriam is already studying medicine in her resolve to relieve pain and enhance life, in opposition to the trail of suffering and death, ordained and executed by humans to fellow humans, that has shadowed her life and become ingrained in her memory. The reader follows Miriam’s vividly evoked experiences in war-torn Spain and France, and on to Casablanca, Mexico and New Zealand, while family members are murdered in Germany or flee to Holland, Palestine and Italy. Along the way she encounters renowned communists and anarchists, writers and artists of the period. On completing her medical studies she visits Jerusalem and settles in the UK, where she marries an artist - formerly Kokoschka’s assistant - who teaches in Austria and starts a school in Italy. In the course of her academic medical work, she also visits China and Argentina, where an Andean author’s writing inspires her launch into literary translation.

My Innocent Absence traces Miriam’s journey from fragmentation to wholeness, revealing history’s role in the formation and fate of the individual, along with the individual’s inherent strength and resourcefulness to thrive in the face of adversity, and – beyond it – to break down barriers towards a more connected and compassionate world. 

Additional Information:

300 pages - Hardback - Illustration/photo's

Rights: World (excl. World English, French, Greek)

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