First aired on Daybreak Alberta (10/6/11)
Though only in its second year, the Alberta Readers' Choice Award is generating excitement among Alberta writers, publishers and book lovers. Five titles were put on a shortlist, and then it was up to the public to decide which contender would take the $10,000 prize. The winner was announced at a glittering gala in Calgary on June 11, as part of the 29th Alberta Literary Awards.
The five books up for the award were:
- Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness by Clem and Olivier Martini
- Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes
- Too Bad: Sketches Toward a Self-Portrait by Robert Kroetsch
- The Grizzly Manifesto by Jeff Gailus
- Cinco de Mayo: A Novel by Michael J. Martineck
Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery by Helen Waldstein Wilkes took home the prize. Her literary debut, it's a powerful memoir of her family's escape from Czechoslovakia prior to the start of the Second World War.
Russell Bowers, host of Daybreak Alberta, spoke with Waldstein-Wilkes following her big win. Listen to their conversation above.
Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery
Helen Waldstein Wilkes
Buy this book at:
"On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein's father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only letters from their extended family could reach Canada through the barriers of conflict. The Waldstein family received these letters as they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they learned to be Canadian and forget their Jewish roots. Helen Waldstein read these letters as an adult — this changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the trail of the letters back to Europe, where she discovered living witnesses who could attest to the letters' contents. She has here interwoven their stories and her own into a compelling narrative of suffering, survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles when exploring a traumatic past.."
Read more at Athabasca University Press.