The Story

The Letter Opener by Kyo MaclearIt 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.

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