IF MY BOOK: Old New Worlds, Judith Krummeck

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicyclefeature 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, forthcoming in October from Green Writers Press.

If Old New Worldswere the dark side of the moon, that’s where I’d feel I was when I emigrated from Africa to America, and traveled in limbo for thirty-six hours.

If Old New Worldswere a grampus dolphin, it would smile and loll in the Atlantic Ocean off the bulge of Africa, then jump and play in the wake of a tall ship named Alfred,which was carrying my great-great grandparents from Portsmouth to Cape Town.

If my book were my brother, he would be the first one to write about our great-great grandparents.

If my book were the equator, our great-great grandparents would cross it—from north to south—in April 1815. 

If my book were a family tree, I would be barely hanging on much of the time as I tried to find the branch back to my great-great grandparents.

If my book were a kakebeenwa, it would be an ox wagon slanted like a jawbone; it would carry my great-great grandparents from Cape Town on a trek into the hinterland of South Africa, and the deep ruts made by the straining wheels as they crossed over the treacherous Hottentots Holland Mountains pass would later be declared a national monument.

If my book were a university library in Grahamstown, it would house my great-great grandfather’s diaries, their watermarked pages crackling with age when I turned them. 

If my book sounded like a ramkiekie, its three strings pulled taut over a gourd as it accompanied the interweaving melodies of the indigenous Khoikoi peoples in Southern Africa, my great-great grandmother’s eyes would have welled up from the beauty. 

If my book were an American passport, I would hug it to my chest with a glad cry because it would be proof of my new citizenship. 

If my book were a quagga, it would be half zebra, half horse, and it would have roamed South Africa’s plains before it became extinct.

If my book smelled of Africa’s red earth, it would make me homesick.

If my book were an unborn child, it might be one of the nine children who survived from my great-great grandmother’s sixteen pregnancies.

If my book were half of a red brick, it would lie amongst the ruins of my great-great grandparents’ mission station for one hundred and sixty years, until I picked it up and carried it back to America to put on my writing desk as a tangible link to the past.

Judith Krummeck is a writer and broadcaster living in Baltimore. Judith holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore, and she has been the evening drive time host at Maryland’s classical music station WBJC-FM since she immigrated from South Africa to America in the late 1990s. Her biographical memoir, Old New Worlds, intertwining the immigrant stories of Judith and her English great-great grandmother, is being published by Green Writers Press this fall. Follow her on Twitter at @judithkrummeck.
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