• Ghosts in a Photograph

Ghosts in a Photograph


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978-177439-057-3 | 2022 October | 304 Pages


In Ghosts in a Photograph, award-winning nonfiction writer Myrna Kostash delves into the lives of her grandparents, all of whom moved from Galicia, now present-day Ukraine, to Alberta at the turn of the twentieth century. Discovering a packet of family mementos, Kostash begins questioning what she knows about her extended families’ pasts and whose narrative is allowed to prevail in Canada.

This memoir, however, is not just a personal story, but a public one of immigration, partisan allegiance, and the stark differences in how two sets of families survive in a new country: one as homesteaders, the other as working-class Edmontonians. Working within the gaps in history—including the unsolved murder in Ukraine of her great uncle—Kostash uses her remarkable acumen as a writer and researcher to craft a probable narrative to interrogate the idea of straightforward and singular-voiced pasts and the stories we tell ourselves about where we come from.

Rich in detail and propelled by vital curiosity, Ghosts in a Photograph is a determined, compelling, and multifaceted family chronicle.

“In the memoir Ghosts in a Photograph, ancestors populate vintage albums, their voices echoing across time in recorded interviews. But more salient, their efforts join in a personal, generational story about making a home on the Canadian plains ... Kostash shapes an intriguing patchwork tale in which she reconciles what she thought she knew about her family with fuller truths, examining their wider place in Canadian history.” 
— Karen Rigby, Foreword Reviews (full review

“A picture says a thousand words, but for Myrna Kostash, a photograph led to an entire memoir exploring mysteries about her family’s history.”
— Paula E. Kirman, Prairie Books NOW (full review)

“[a] richly detailed and well-documented familial story.”
— Joseph Hnatiuk, Winnipeg Free Press (full review)

“A wonderful and meticulous work of love.” 
— Theresa Kishkan, author of Blue Portugal and Other Essays (full review)

"A tribute to perserverence and community, Ghosts in a Photograph works toward common ground, 'the image of the good earth and its fruits that sustain us as an icon of sharing.'"
— K.B. Thors, Alberta Views

“A fascinating piece of investigative work that brings the human elements of both Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian history to life.”
— Marco Levytsky, The New Pathway Ukrainian News (full review)

“Myrna Kostash … is a national treasure.”
— Stan PerskeyThe Globe and Mail

“For a work of non-fiction to become a classic means that it has made a significant contribution to a particular culture by creating a breakthrough in its consciousness and by heralding a new stage in its evolution. All of Baba's Children achieved this by its vibrant, radical, and revisionist perspective on multiculturalism. . . . All of Baba's Children has become a manifesto that has yet to be surpassed.”
— George Melnyk for All of Baba’s Children

“Kostash has invented a rich literary genre: the erotic-political memoir. With grace, intelligence, knowledge and humour, Kostash leads us through her romantic odyssey, a voyage that records her own sentimental education, but also major events of this waning century’s political history.
— Alberto Manguel, The Globe and Mail for The Doomed Bridegroom

“Kostash writes with a poetic grace that vividly captures the look, feel, and smell of her subjects…the book goes beyond the numbers to bring its young women to life. No Kidding should join Dr Spock on every parent’s bookshelf.”
Maclean’s for No Kidding: Inside the Life of Teenage Girls