Episode 11: Dani Shapiro


On welcoming compassion for the string of selves you’ve ever been, quotes from Hourglass and Inheritance. On the corrosive power of family secrets, and the healing of the secret that Dani uncovered about her origins.

On welcoming compassion for the string of selves you’ve ever been, quotes from Hourglass and Inheritance. On the corrosive power of family secrets, and the healing of the secret that Dani uncovered about her origins.

About Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro’s books include the memoirs, Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work spans diverse subjects from her tumultuous upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish community and the tragic death of her father to her explorations of spirituality and the nature of our deepest relationships. Dani’s New York Times best selling memoir, Inheritance, was recently published by Knopf.

Dani’s essays and journalistic pieces have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Salon, n+1, Tin House, and Vogue, and have been widely anthologized. She contributes regularly to The New York Times Book Review and has been broadcast on This American Life.

Along with teaching writing workshops around the world, Dani has taught at Columbia and New York University, and is the cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy.

In February of 2019, Dani launched an original podcast “Family Secrets” in collaboration with iHeart Media. The podcast features stories from guests who—like Dani— have uncovered life-altering and long-hidden secrets from their families’ past.

She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Length: 48:46
Timecodes:

0:44
Devotion. On questioning identity and forming a new relationship to Judaism.

2:07
Hourglass. What is it to walk with another human being over time?
Virginia Woolf quote: “[…] to feel the present sliding over the depths of the past, peace is necessary.” Meditation practice.

7:44
Finding compassion for our younger selves.
Assignment: Go back to an old journal, read and locate some compassion for your younger self. Then write a poem detailing that compassion.

11:36
Inheritance.The story of how this book came about. Discovering that Dani’s father was not her biological father.

18:35
The unknown known. The longing she felt growing up that she didn’t understand.

20:54
How quickly the story unfolded, following the genealogy test.

25:25
Recognizing her gestures in her biological father.

26:16
On shying away from certain terminology in donor-conceived world.

27:43
Modern smoke signals.

29:30
How everyone has tried to do the kind thing. What do we owe each other in these situations?

31:43
What it’s like to experience people’s vulnerability and courage at Inheritance book tour events.
The end of secrecy of this kind.

35:35
Difference between sharing a story and crafting a story.

36:20
Returning to yoga.

38:01
Dani’s favorite view in Italy.

39:25
What prayer means to Dani. Sylvia Boorstein: an expression of a wish.

43:10
Reading from Inheritance. Dani’s Aunt Shirley’s words to her as a pure manifestation of love.
No one is an accident of history.

46:10
To be born into a human body is the rarest thing.

Show Notes

danishapiro.com
Hourglass
Inheritance
Devotion

Family Secrets Podcast

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