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In the world of art and architecture conservation, Rosa Lowinger stands as a beacon of expertise and cultural insight. Her new memoir, “Dwell Time: A Memoir of Art, Exile, and Repair,” released in October by Row House Publishing, is a compelling blend of professional acumen and deeply personal narrative.

Lowinger, acclaimed for her previous works such as “Tropicana Nights: The Life and Times of the Legendary Cuban Nightclub,” brings a unique perspective as one of the few prominent Latinas in the field of art conservation. Her new memoir intertwines the nuanced science of her profession with the rich tapestry of her Jewish Cuban family’s history, marked by a double exile — from Eastern Europe in the 1920s and then from Cuba in early 1961.

“Dwell Time” is ingeniously structured, with chapters named after the materials Rosa handles in her conservation work — Marble, Limestone, Bronze, and more. Each chapter delves into both the technical aspects of these materials and the personal stories they evoke. This narrative style recalls Primo Levi’s “The Periodic Table,” offering a unique lens through which to view Lowinger’s life and work.

At the heart of the memoir is the theme of repair — both in the literal sense of her conservation work and in the metaphorical sense of personal and familial healing. Lowinger deftly explores her family’s complex dynamics, particularly focusing on her relationship with her charismatic yet mercurial mother. This exploration is set against the backdrop of her professional life, where she meticulously restores art and architecture, paralleling her own journey of personal restoration.

Lowinger’s reflections on her Cuban heritage and her family’s experiences offer a poignant look at the intersection of identity, art, and history. Her narrative is both a window into the life of a conservator and a mirror reflecting the universal human experiences of loss, resilience, and hope.

The memoir has already garnered high praise from literary figures and critics. Kirkus Reviews calls it a “masterful revelation about life and art imitating each other in maintenance and repair,” while New York Times bestselling author Gary Shteyngart praises it for making the old new and delivering on the promise of repair. These accolades underline the memoir’s profound impact, both intellectually and emotionally.

“Dwell Time” is more than just a memoir; it is a testament to the enduring power of art and the indomitable human spirit. Lowinger’s narrative skillfully weaves together her vast knowledge as an art conservator with the haunting saga of her family, presenting a narrative that is as educational as it is emotionally resonant.


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