Letters From the Lost is the winner of the 2011 Edna Stabler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the only award of its kind offered in Canada. The award was established by writer and literary journalist Edna Staebler to provide encouragement and recognition to a Canadian writer of a first or second published book, and the award is administered by the Faculty of Arts, Wilfred Laurier University.

Speaking on behalf of this year’s jury, Laurier associate professor Tanis MacDonald said, “Letters from the Lost is a ‘memoir of discovery’ as its subtitle promises, and it is also a memoir about the pain of knowing some stories can never be fully discovered. It is a testament that ranges across continents and decades to affirm what one family lost to atrocity and what the survivor in Waldstein Wilkes finds in her family, past and present.”

At age 60, Waldstein Wilkes opens a small box that was left by her father in their southern Ontario home. The box holds “letters from the lost” – letters from family members left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The author follows the letters’ trail back to Europe to discover that “the lost” – homeland, past and family – are part of her self. Letters from the Lost weaves letters, imaginary conversations and one woman’s search for answers into a compelling narrative of what it means to be a Jew, a survivor and a family member without a family.

For more information, please visit the Wilfred Laurier University website.

Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery received the Alberta Readers Choice Award 2011. It is awarded through popular vote, and among its champions was Sharon Budnarchuk, owner of Audrey’s Books in Edmonton who wrote as follows: We all need to read this book to remind ourselves that the victims of horrors which continue today are made up of people like us: children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, who all deserve better in the name of humanity.

For more information, please visit the Alberta Reader’s Choice website.

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