It is 1989 and Naiko is working in the Undeliverable Mail Office, a cavernous space that resembles a giant, congested pawnshop. Immersed in things lost and missing, she searches for clues to match undeliverable mail with addresses, a job that allows her to achieve a semblance of order in a disorderly world. It is a shock, then, when Naiko’s co-worker Andrei, an enigmatic Romanian refugee who has become the unlikely object of Naiko’s fascination, suddenly vanishes.
As the novel reveals itself in exquisitely wrought layers that drift through time from the Second World War to the fall of communism, Andrei’s story of his past life in communist Romania becomes an opaque reflection of Naiko’s own existence, and objects — from the pens hoarded by Naiko’s mother in her retirement home to the personal effects of Jewish women that Andrei’s grandmother sorts through at Birkenau — become touchstones for memories and meaning, loss and love. A luminous debut novel from a rising talent of the new generation of Canadian writers, The Letter Opener is a compelling work of literary fiction that glows with truth.