“Myrna Kostash is an extraordinarily gifted writer.” Alberto Manguel
“An incisive chronicler of social history.” Globe and Mail
“One of Canada’s most intelligent and conscientious writers.” Books in Canada
“Kostash writes with a poetic grace that vividly captures…her subjects.” Maclean’s
Myrna Kostash is an acclaimed writer of literary and creative nonfiction who makes her home in Edmonton when she is not travelling in pursuit of her varied literary interests and passions. These have taken her from school halls in Vancouver, BC, to Ukrainian weddings in Two Hills, Alberta; from the site of the mass grave of Cree warriors in Battleford, Saskatchewan, to a fishers’ meeting in Digby, Nova Scotia; from the British Library in London, UK, to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. She is inspired in her work by her childhood in the Ukrainian-Canadian community of Edmonton, her rites of passage through the Sixties in the US, Canada and Europe, by her rediscovery of her western Canadian roots in the 1980s, by her return to her spiritual sources in Byzantium and the Eastern Christian (Orthodox) Church, and, most recently, by her re-education in the history of Indigenous and Settler relations in western Canada.
Myrna is the author of the multicultural classic, All of Baba’s Children (1978), which has never gone out of print. Her second book, Long Way From Home: The Story of the Sixties Generation in Canada (1980), was the first to narrate the specifically Canadian experience of that era, and has been acknowledged as such by grateful scholars of today. Though out of print, No Kidding: Inside the World of Teenage Girls (1987) and The Next Canada: In Search of the Future Canada continue to find readers because of their passionate reportage. With Bloodlines: A Journey into Eastern Europe (1993) and The Doomed Bridegroom: A Memoir (1997), Myrna hit her full stride in the burgeoning nonfiction genre known as creative nonfiction, the latest example of which was her 2010 book, Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium, a gathering-together of travel writing, memoir, historical and political narrative, art history and reflection. In original documentations of two key events in western Canadian history, she is the editor of The Frog Lake Reader (2009) and The Seven Oaks Reader (2016). Her work-in-progress is The Ghost Notebooks, about her grandparents.
While working on books, Myrna works on smaller literary projects such as the traveller’s companion to the North Saskatchewan River, Reading the River (2005), and the compendium of historical and literary texts about the 1885 Frog Lake Massacre, The Frog Lake Reader (2009). These same interests – her roots in western Canadian, Ukrainian-Canadian and Ukrainian culture and history and her engagement with Canadian social issues – are reflected in her work for radio documentary with the CBC’s program, Ideas, and in her current project, a theatrical play based on characters from the story of Frog Lake.
Unsurprisingly, Myrna’s work has been viewed within the lens of Canadian Studies, especially among appreciative Canadianists in universities of eastern, central and south-eastern Europe.
Myrna is in demand at home and abroad as a public speaker, lecturer, reader and panellist, appreciated for her impassioned opinions, wide-ranging commitments and concerns as a writer and citizen, and her career-long advocacy for her beloved genre, literary nonfiction.
Statements about Myrna Kostash:
“For… Kostash, identity is not product but process played out in a constant, ongoing, imaginative engagement with language. In [her] texts, [she] is always departing, always setting out, always on the move. [Her] writing is less about coming home than about the open-ended, perpetual search for home... The creative process is key to re-imagining [her] sense of self, community, history, and home.” Lisa Grekul, Leaving Shadows: Literature in English by Canada's Ukrainians, 2005.