Myrna Kostash’s stellar Prodigal Daughter might be a conundrum for cataloguing librarians as it could be pegged as travelogue, spiritual quest, memoir, historical study, and scholarly work. To make it simple, perhaps a new category of “Must Read” should be created.
Prodigal Daughter follows Kostash’s quest to answer “Who is St. Demetrius?” In her fascinating and richly layered work, she journeys geographically and spiritually through the Balkans, discovering and reexamining her roots and the history of the complex part of the world. She is sweeping in her exploration, visiting churches, museums, and cafes; talking with scholars, religious leaders, friends, new and old. Beautifully written and carefully rendered, it is clear that Kostash is a master at her craft.
Prodigal Daughter is a true voyage to Byzantium . From the classrooms and Sunday schools of Edmonton , Alberta , to the deeper faith that accompanies belief, Myrna Kostash chronicles a liturgy of discovery. This is a luminous personal narrative, both quest and love story, deeply sensitive and evocatively written. It breaks a silence and investigates the silence behind deep and profound transmutation.
Of the three, Myrna Kostash’s work Prodigal Daughter involves a journey that is both physical and metaphysical, taking her deep into the modern Balkans to seek the roots of Demetrius, whose life and example were part of the formative spiritual experience of her own childhood. In the process, we find a spellbinding narrative crafted by a writer in the full maturity of her powers, an effortless segue between physical, political, emotional, intellectual and cultural spheres. Wry insights, a lovely sense of time and place, a fine ability to incorporate the telling detail, make Kostash’s memoir deeply memorable. The integration of private and public space, done fearlessly and openly, without any hint of apology or condescension, make her work all the more germane in a borderless world where barriers between language, cultures, people are assaulted in ways unimaginable in any previous age of the human experience. Hers is very much a book of our times, and about our times: of how we are both blessed and cursed with the past. In her hands the past is no longer a foreign country, but a vigorous current in the present.