Talia Carner, a human rights activist and award-winning author of five novels about social issues, will discuss her latest novel, “The Third Daughter,” (HarperCollins), on Saturday, October 19, at 6 p.m. at Janet Lehr Fine Arts in East Hampton.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a legal union of sex-traffickers named Zwi Migdal operated with impunity in Buenos Aires. Its members — well-dressed men, speaking Yiddish and flaunting their success — returned to visit their native Eastern European communities on recruitment expeditions. They offered marriages and jobs in the New World, but instead kidnapped girls and women and forced them into prostitution.
“The Third Daughter” is based on this true story and finds 14 -year-old Batya in the Russian countryside, fleeing with her family from endless Jewish massacres. Desperate, her father leaps at the opportunity to marry Batya to a worldly, wealthy stranger who can guarantee his daughter an easy life and passage to America. Feeling like a princess in a fairytale, Batya is whisked away to a new world. But soon she discovers that she’s entered a waking nightmare. Her new “husband” does indeed bring her to America — Buenos Aires, a vibrant, growing city in which prostitution is not only legal but deeply embedded in the culture. Now Batya is one of thousands of women tricked and sold into a brothel. As the years pass, Batya forms deep bonds with her “sisters” in the house as well as some men who are both kind and cruel. Through it all, she holds onto one dream — to bring her family to America where they will be safe from the anti-Semitism that plagues Russia. Just as Batya is becoming a known tango dancer, she gets an unexpected but dangerous opportunity — to help bring down the criminal network that has enslaved so many young women yet has been instrumental in developing Buenos Aires into a major metropolis.
As Carner writes, “The whispers of these girls and women ensnared into sexual slavery grew into loud cries in my head until I had to give them a voice. It took research, but also maturity, compassion, and skill to follow the thread that turned ‘The Third Daughter’ into a story of courage in the face of danger and hope in the face of despair.”
At the event, Carner will speak to actions that can be taken today to abolish sex-trafficking in your own backyard. Her book will be available at the talk. Janet Lehr Fine Arts is located at 68 Park Place in East Hampton.