Hailed by the New York Times as coming "closer than anyone to writing The Great American Novel", Lore Segal stuns with this passionate love story of a refugee from Hitler's Europe and a witty, hard-drinking black intellectual.
For Ilka Weissnix, everything is new. Having recently arrived in the United States, she is determined to escape the immigrant communities of New York and boards a train headed west to discover "the real America". She finds Carter Bayoux "sitting on a stool in a bar in the desert, across from the railroad."
Older, portly, experienced, and black, Carter is magnetic. To Ilka, he exemplifies the values and cultures of a changing America. In order to understand her new country and her new love, Ilka throws herself into Carter's dizzying world, nurses him through his bouts of depression and his alcoholism, and becomes fascinated by stories of his amorous past. But Carter's ghosts are ever present, and soon Ilka finds herself torn between saving him and saving her own future.
With a foreword by Stanley Crouch, Her First American is the poignant story of an immigrant experience in a country of endless possibilities and of a rich and breathtaking love that is doomed from the start.