Winnipeg, March 21, 2024 – The Shevchenko Foundation is pleased to announce that Ghosts in a Photograph, by Myrna Kostash, published by NeWest Press, is the winner of the 2024 KOBZAR™ Book Award.

The announcement was made at a gala award ceremony held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on March 21, 2024. The memoir delves into the lives of the author’s 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 questions what she knows about her families’ pasts and whose narrative is allowed to prevail in Canada.

This year’s jury participated in a tough deliberation, thanks to the excellent submissions on this year’s shortlist including Ukrainian Ritual on the Prairies by Natalie Kononenko, Five Stalks of Grain by Adrian Lysenko and illustrated by Ivanka Theodosia Galadza, The Taste of Hunger by Barbara Joan Scott, Winterkill by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, and Valley of the Birdtail by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (AMO BINASHII).

Here’s what the 2024 KOBZAR™ Book Award jury had to say about this year’s winner:

Myrna Kostash

“Ghosts in a Photograph is an ambitious and well-researched exploration of Ukrainian-Canadian family history. Kostash expertly handles the complexity of tying together details of family history to world events, in a narrative that is personal and self-reflective. Well written and eye-opening, Ghosts in a Photograph uses Kostash’s family immigration story to delve into history in a meaningful way, and shine light on the intergenerational immigrant experience.”

“On behalf of The Shevchenko Foundation, I’m delighted to present the KOBZAR Book Award to Myrna Kostash. This award recognizes Myrna’s latest contribution to the collection of stories that share the Ukrainian Canadian experience,” says Boris Balan, the Foundation’s President. “Many thanks to the jurors who spent hours reading and deliberating on the wonderful group of books that were submitted from across our country.”

Myrna Kostash was unable to attend the event. However, in a written acceptance speech, Kostash reflected on her book. “It is as a mature writer that I looked again with new interest at my origins in Ukrainian settlement in Alberta – that is, the lives of my grandparents rural and urban – and entered that narrative as though we were still in each other’s company,” Kostash stated. “Further, I linked each of their stories to the family narratives that kept on evolving in Galicia beyond our kin in Canada.”

Presented biennially, the $25,000 KOBZAR™ Book Award recognizes outstanding contributions to Canadian literary arts by authors who write on a topic with a tangible connection to the Ukrainian Canadian experience. $20,000 is awarded to the author; $5,000 to the publisher; and $1,500 to each finalist. Genres include literary non-fiction, fiction, poetry, young readers’ literature, play, screenplay and musical. Distinctive to this Award is monetary payment to the winner’s publisher, in addition to the winning author.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Myrna Kostash is the author of the classic All of Baba’s Children, No Kidding: Inside the World of Teenage Girls, winner of the Alberta Culture and Writers’ Guild of Alberta prize for Best Non-Fiction, and Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium, which received the 2010 City of Edmonton Book Prize, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Wilfred Eggleston Award for Best Nonfiction, and was shortlisted for the 2011 Runcimann Award (UK). Her other titles include The Doomed Bridegroom: A Memoir, Bloodlines: A Journey into Eastern Europe, and her edited collections Reading the River: A Traveller’s Companion to the North Saskatchewan River, The Frog Lake Reader, and The Seven Oaks Reader. Kostash, who served as Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada, has published widely in numerous magazines and lectured across Canada and Europe. In 2010, she was awarded the Writers Trust Matt Cohen Award for a Life of Writing.

The Shevchenko Foundation is a leading nation-wide charitable organization entrusted to preserve, develop, and promote Ukrainian Canadian arts, heritage, community, and education. The KOBZAR Book Award is at the core of the Foundation’s literary arts program that includes the annual Emerging Writers Short Prose Competition.