Helen Waldstein Wilkes- Author of Letters from the Lost
Winner of the 2011 Edna Stabler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
Alberta Readers Choice Award 2011
Since receiving her Ph.D in French Literature, Helen Waldstein Wilkes spent 30 years teaching at every level in Canada and in the U.S. Her research interests include cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition, and neurolinguistics. Now retired and living in Vancouver, she is actively examining her own cultural inheritance and its impact.
About the Book
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.
Sheryl MacKay on CBC’s North by Northwest
Winnipeg Jewish Review
Quill and Quire Review
Open AU Article
The Record Article
CBC Radio Podcast: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/bcnxnw_20110327_47239.mp3
Podcast interview starts at 22.45
Bookmark Interview: http://www.box.net/shared/mbbjp5tx2150vzg9k8t9
“I’ve always enjoyed reading memoirs, but by far this one has been the most memorable. An unforgettable story, filled with history, love, emotions and facts, Letters From The Lost is a read you won’t want to miss. Read the letters in the box and prepare for a historical lesson you won’t read about in the history books. You will experience suffering, joy, love and fear. You won’t close the book as the same person who opened it to read.” [read full review]
April 19, 2010
“[Letters From the Lost] is a fascinating collection of letters and assorted photographs, maps and charts woven together by Wilkes descriptive narrative. … Anyone who writes this type of book will always wonder if justice was done to the memory of those who perished. Wilkes need not worry on that score.” [read full review]
Jewish Independent Review
March 26, 2010
“Strikingly, the post-war correspondence in the collection, a series of five letters written by one of Waldstein Wilkes’ only surviving relatives, describes life in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, the fates of the individuals whose voices are preserved in the previous correspondence, and his attempts to rebuild his life.” — (Jewish Book World 28:3) [read full review]